Mind

"I had basically been living a lie”: Neighbours star Ian Smith reveals battle with depression

The television icon has struggled with depression since learning at age 54 he had been adopted.

By Candice Mehta-Culjak
Ian Smith

Ian Smith -- national icon and television personality -- has opened up about his years-long struggle with depression.

The former Neighbours star was 54 when his mother admitted to him -- just hours before her death -- that he had been adopted. That shocking news led the actor on a search for his birth mother, Peg Kline, but also sent him spiralling into a place of great darkness.

Peg had Ian when she was just 13 years old after being impregnated by an older family friend.

"I had basically been living a lie for 54 years,' he told Daily Mail Australia in a new interview. "I couldn't even look in the mirror because I didn't know who I was."

Thankfully, the beloved actor has learnt to manage his depression with medication and the support of his wife Gail.

"The black dog still walks with you but he walks beside you as more of a faithful companion," he said. "I'm taking too much medication for him to have too much bite these days."

The beloved actor has learnt to manage his depression with medication and the support of his wife Gail.
The beloved actor has learnt to manage his depression with medication and the support of his wife Gail.

The Australian-native, who is perhaps most well known for his long-running portrayal of 'Harold Bishop' on Neighbours, went on to advise others struggling with depression to take up writing -- a cathartic process which was recommended by his "shrink."

"If someone has the black dog scratching on the back door, he's usually there trying to remind you of something you wouldn't want reminding of," he said.

"Start writing," he continued. "That cathartic moment will happen. It's like 'eureka!' and then the need to write will also subside."

WATCH: Woman's Day recently brought together Ian and his on-screen wife, Madge. Post continues...

Ian told the publication that he hoped sharing his experience would lead to other men to confront their own mental health.

"I honestly believe seven out of 10 men would go through some form of depression," he said. "Men are reasonably stupid - they won't go and see about these things. But thank God more and more footballers and sportsmen have started to go to print about things like depression, because hopefully the tide may be turning."

If you, or someone you know, would like to have a free, confidential chat with someone they can trust, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website www.lifeline.org.au.