Tuesday 21 January 2020

Saunders reveals her depression battle following cancer

Sanunders returns with Ab Fab for Christmas special
Sanunders returns with Ab Fab for Christmas special

Ab Fab star Jennifer Saunders has opened up about suffering depression following her treatment for breast cancer.

Saunders, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year after missing her previous mammogram because she was on tour.

The actress, who is resurrecting her alter-ego Edina for three Absolutely Fabulous specials, tells the Christmas Radio Times she was unprepared for how she felt when the treatment - six months of chemotherapy - ended.

"I found the Tamoxifen (which she will be on for five years) the hardest thing because it changes you," she said.

"It's like suddenly becoming older. You feel fagged out, you lose your motor and it makes you feel depressed.

"You have that 'I want to go to bed and sleep for ever' kind of feeling. Normally I have the energy to get up, get ready and do something, but I wasn't starting my days until maybe 11 or 11.30, even though I was awake."

The Ab Fab star said it was one of her best friends, psychologist Tanya Byron, who made her confront the reality that she was suffering from depression.

"I'd say, 'The whole world is against me. Everyone else is wrong about everything.' And she'd say, 'No, darling, I think that might be depression.'"

Saunders decided to take the antidepressant Citalopram "and, honestly, it was, like, 'Give me more pills!' It was brilliant," she told the magazine.

The star, who has three daughters with husband comedian Adrian Edmondson, said she felt differently while undergoing the treatment.

"I have to say I thought quite a lot of it was hilarious - because once you get through the fact that you're going to feel bad, you know you're going to get through it," she said.

The funnywoman said she always had friends visiting, adding: "And, actually, we used to laugh so, so much. I used to totter up the street on their arms to see if I could get a drink in me.

"'Can one of us get a drink? I need a drink! I need more chemicals!' We used to have such fun. They used to take me shopping."

She said of her treatment in London's Harley Street: "I became quite addicted to my old chair and my nurse, who was very good at stabbing me - you know, getting the portacath in - because, I can tell you, you don't want any fiddling about.

"He was an absolute joy. I sort of miss him, really, and those social visits."

Saunders said she had been "pushed into menopause like jumping off a cliff... bang!" because of the breast cancer treatment.

The star, who missed her previous mammogram before she was diagnosed, said: "I always tell my girls, 'Mammograms and smears - they seem like a big thing, but it's nothing. In and out - just do it.'"

The Ab Fab specials see Edina and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), famous for their outrageous outfits and love of Bolly, now in their 60s and trying to keep abreast of the modern world of tweeting and blogging.

Saunders said: "What I love about them is that there's very little you can do that would seem unreal for them. I quite like that kind of cartoony-ness about them."

She added: "I think they're entering a new phase in which they can't keep up with everything. Eddy sometimes doesn't know what the new clubs or fashion designers are because you can't fit that much in your head."

Saunders is also writing a Spice Girls musical and is considering doing an Ab Fab film.

She said of the movie: "It would be about Patsy and Eddy being in search of what they could never achieve - the glamour, the slowness of life and the style of the dolce vita.

"Because the world has caught up with them. Everyone wears stupid clothes. Everyone shows their knickers as they get out of a cab. Everyone is Edina now."

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