Grounded with Louis Theroux: Gail Porter’s frank discussion about depression is an important listen

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Gail Porter gets frank about her experiences with depression during a conversation with Louis Theroux on his new podcast.

The Grounded with Louis Theroux podcast has helped many a listener get through lockdown. From discussing how anxiety leads to “catastrophising” certain situations with Jon Ronson, to exploring what it’s like to look after parents with bad mental health with Helena Bonham-Carter, Theroux’s typically unique interviewing style is a hit on the podcast format.

In the latest episode, Gail Porter speaks to Theroux about 90s culture, depression, relationships and alopecia – and her candour and wit makes it such an empowering listen for anyone who struggles to talk openly about mental health. 

Porter reflects back to when she was picked on at school, which then led to overeating at home. “My dad would make pig noises at me when I was 16/17.” she tells Theroux. “I had this awareness of not being pretty or good enough…

“I’d have my great times then suddenly think I was useless at everything: overeating was first, then I was called ‘fat’ so I stopped eating altogether and ended up in hospital.”

She explains: “I went to a gym and I think I was about six stone at the time: I collapsed on a running machine. They took me to hospital and I was barred from the gym. I wasn’t bothered about being in hospital; I was more bothered about being barred from the gym.

“That made me feel completely out of control. That was my 6am every morning: 5k, get in the sauna, lose weight, feel ‘good’, go home, have five Jelly Babies because I knew how many calories were in that. And then repeat, like Groundhog Day.”

Porter says she became depressed by the age of 18, started to self harm when she was around 25 and was later diagnosed with alopecia. She was then sectioned for 28 days and was released half way through her stay, which she openly talks about with Theroux.

Explaining why she talks about issues that are too-often stigmatised, she says: “I’m not ashamed of anything. We all make mistakes, I’ve had a few problems that many people do. Some people don’t talk about it but I just think, ‘you know what? I’m not embarrased, or ashamed, it is what it is. And I’m quite happy in my own self.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website or see the NHS’ list of mental health helplines.

You can listen to the full interview on Grounded with Louis Theroux, available to stream on BBC Sounds.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…