The comedian’s plan to write a travel memoir took a darker turn when her depression returned after 12 years. She talks about her recovery, empty nesting – and stranding herself on a desert island
It is 8am on a rainy morning outside Ruby Wax’s house in London’s Notting Hill Gate. The American-British comedian, writer, television personality and authority on mental health has suggested we meet before breakfast, although the reason for this timing, intended to be helpful to each of us, no longer seems as clear as when the arrangement was made. It is like being up for some antisocial budget flight. Her white stucco house is handsome from the outside and lights are on in the lower-ground-floor kitchen as I ring the bell. I spot a window box crammed with artificial flowers – as if to say: the show must go on, whatever the season. In this, they are like Wax herself.
Her new book, with the disarming title I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was, was meant to be about travelling the world in a (partly tongue-in-cheek) search for the meaning of life – and it still is. But while she was on her travels researching it, she was hijacked by a paralysing depression and ended up checking herself into a psychiatric hospital. So the book became something more embattled and exposing than planned.