“Last Christmastime I almost killed myself. Almost. I’ve had a lot of almosts. Never gone from almost to deed. Don’t think I ever will. But it was a bad almost” – Alastair Campbell, 2019
Alastair Campbell, the former Director of Communications for Prime Minister Tony Blair, was one of the most feared operators in British politics. Known for his short fuse, he was the basis for the obscenity-spewing character Malcolm Tucker in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It.
But there was always another Alastair Campbell – the vulnerable man behind the tough-guy persona, the one who struggled with alcoholism and depression. At the age of 29 he experienced a major stress-related breakdown after long periods of heavy drinking and intense overwork. He was arrested and hospitalised. Since then, he has intermittently struggled with bouts of depression and has become one of the nation’s best known campaigners for mental health awareness. According to Campbell, our society still isn’t taking mental health seriously enough. Recent research by Mind found that half of people in the UK who requested therapy had to wait more than three months. While waiting for therapy, 67% became more mentally unwell, 40% harmed themselves, and one in six attempted suicide.
In his new book Better To Live, Campbell explores the impact of his depression on his professional and political life, as well as on those closest to him. His story is one of hope as well as pain. While Campbell speaks about the stigma, shame and taboo still associated with depression, he also examines how his successes may have been partly because of, rather than despite, his mental health problems.
On Wednesday May 20, join Campbell alongside broadcaster Adrian Chiles, who has himself struggled with depression, anxiety and alcoholism, to hear how he learned to survive the struggle of mental illness.
Each ticket sold will include a £5 donation to Mind, the mental health charity. Mind offers advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health.
Book Bundle tickets include a ticket to the event plus a copy of Alastair Campbell’s new book Better to Live: How I Learnt to Survive Depression, to be collected from the venue on the night of the event. The Couples Ticket contains two Standard tickets and one copy of the book.
Speakers are subject to change.