Radio entertainment and showbiz

“I ended up in a mental institution,” Ruby Wax tells Ken Bruce

Comedian and author Ruby Wax spoke to Ken Bruce on Greatest Hits Radio about her latest book and why she checked in to a mental institution.

Pitched as a travelogue of experiences that allowed her to explore the meaning of life, I’m Not as Well as I Thought I Was, took a different path after Ruby checked herself into a mental institution when her depression returned.

Ruby explained that the idea for the book came to her in lockdown when she, like many others, came to the conclusion that money, beauty, power or success doesn’t necessarily give you happiness.

“I decided I’d go on all these journeys that might inspire me and that was the book that I pitched to the publisher,” she told Ken. “I moved into a Christian monastery to find out what faith is, I went to a 30-day retreat to find what happens to your mind – do you get peaceful, or do you go crazy? I’m aways looking, I’m curious, but the idea was find these journeys and see if they change your life.”

Then, she admitted to Ken, the journeys did change things but in an unexpected way: “It did change my life – I ended up in a mental institution.

“It could have been from the journeys, but depression comes even after you win an Oscar. But it was very serious.

“For the book I had a deadline so [these experiences] 30-day retreats, swimming with whales, getting people out of Afghanistan they were a little close together… and it certainly burnt me out.

“If you do an experience like that your brain does change but then you need time [to process], and I didn’t. I just had the next one and the next one, so I think I overdosed a little bit,” she said.

Ruby said of writing about her experience for the book: “It’s very One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, you can’t get better material.”

She revealed that while in the mental institution they wouldn’t change her meds unless she did therapy but wasn’t into it even though she has a degree in it! “I’m a terrible therapist, I used to say to people ‘come on get to the punchline’,” she added.

When asked what she thinks the key to good mental health is, Ruby responded: “I know this sounds corny but be generous and be nice to people.

“We work as a community, but we’ve lost that, so if you can even pick up a piece of paper and say ‘you dropped this’ it’s a tiny thing, but it releases a hormone in you that is so good for your health.”

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