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World News

Archbishop of Canterbury opens up about his experience of depression in new BBC programme

by Kelly Valencia

Most Rev Justin Welby has said his faith acted as a ‘safety net’ when he struggled with depression.

He described how it was “very odd” to have a “very deep sense” of God’s love while simultaneously feeling "a real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself".

The Archbishop of Canterbury made the remarks during the first episode of his new programme on BBC Radio 4, The Archbishop Interviews.

He explored the topics of faith, doubt and depression with bestselling author Elif Shafak.

Archbishop Justin said: "My own experience of depression - one of the symptoms of it is self-hatred, self-contempt, real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself," he said.

"And that seems very odd when it combines with also a deep sense that I'm loved by God. In my life, that expressed itself almost as a safety net.

"I would say in my prayers - I may be this terrible person, this failure as an Archbishop, whatever it is, but I know you know me better than I know myself and you still love me.

"And by that I am held."

He also shared that his daughter’s book sharing her experience of depression encouraged him to seek help and speak to others about his own struggle.

"She had a breakdown and very severe depression and still suffers from illness, and she's married now with two children.

"She wrote a beautiful book called 'I Thought There Would Be Cake'. In other words, when she was grown up, there'd be cake. And how different it was.

And in that there was a chapter about the need to be open to speak to others. And so I did.

"I went to get some help and that has made a huge difference."

The full episode is available on BBC Sounds.

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