I remember the day vividly. I walked slowly out onto the blistering noise of Uxbridge Road, dragged myself step by step through Hammersmith and into what I subconsciously expected to be my final day as a LAMDA student.

I was 21 years old, 2 weeks into rehearsals to play Macbeth in a final year production. The greatest of Shakespearean parts, in one of the meccas of classical training, in front of a list of the cream of theatrical agents! The eighteen year old boy who applied to nine different schools would have laughed if he’d been told that any of this would be the case. My hard work, determination, passion and drive had finally come to fruition. There was a problem however: my body and mind had finally given up.

As I walked through the corridors of my alma mater I passed by faces I recalled but who didn’t seem recognisable to me now. The people I loved tried to give me words of encouragement, but I fail to remember what they said. I do, however, remember staggering out of the principal’s office, and onto the harsh busyness of Talgarth Road. I wept in the arms of a loved one for a while, trying to comprehend what had just happened. I was leaving LAMDA. I was no longer going to be playing Macbeth. My world to me at that point, was over.

For me, the cruellest part of depression is the way it robs you of perspective. Strips you of any hope. I can look back now with hindsight and see that it was an important moment in my life. It lead me to new perspectives, an incredibly supportive new drama school year and a deeper understanding of the seriousness of my condition. At the time, however there was nothing. A simple absence of anything.

The following four months compounded this feeling of absence. Of nothingness. They were spent in my hometown and were without a doubt the bleakest months of my life. For me depression isn’t what many think it is; despair. For me, when depression gets truly life-threatening it is the exact opposite, it’s an absence of emotion. I longed desperately to cry during those four months, but I couldn’t. It was if the human part of me had been turned off and I was simply on autopilot, slowly trudging my way through my so-called ‘life’. I would further stab at my piteously low self-esteem by spending most of my days trawling through the facebook pages of the peers I had just left. I have learned since to try and separate life from what I call ‘facebook reality’!

These dark few months culminated in a suicide attempt, that I think retrospectively was probably a cry for help. But, as I’ve said depression doesn’t really give much room for retrospect, so at the time it seemed to me the only option.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, since then I was able to go back to LAMDA, complete my studies, graduate with a wonderful new year and gain some life long friends in the process. I have also been thrust head-first into the unforgiving and sometimes pitiless industry that we work in. Even as I write this I am secretly afraid that an article this personal will bar me from ever being employed as an actor again. But having seen what seems the worst come and go, I now feel I should strive for what all half-decent actors are striving for: truth. That means understanding myself first and foremost, but also finding the liberation in which to share my own flaws, fears and insecurities.

Vulnerability, I believe, is also an essential part of being an actor and since those dark few months I have begun to open up with people about my mental health and also my flaws and fears. To my surprise, in opening up I have gained so much in return. I have learned that it isn’t just me who suffers and that especially as creatives, we all have a common bond of having insecurities; it is what makes us human, as much as it makes us creative.

In finally being honest with myself, and the outside world, I was lucky enough to go back to LAMDA and receive fantastic mental health-care whilst continuing my training, free of charge. This is something I will always be grateful to LAMDA for. In being honest and opening up I have also been unbelievably lucky to get an agent who understands my mental health and has supported me completely through my first year in the ‘real world’ of this crazy business we call show! But most of all I’ve been lucky enough to hear from others who struggle in this industry. I’ve even been able to share some of my, um *cough* wisdom on the subject for those who have been in need of it. We have an awfully long way to go but the more we share with each other, and the more the industry starts realising that we’d have to be at least slightly crazy to do this for a living (!!), the sooner no one will feel the need to hide their pain, their flaws and their fears. In sharing my own story, I have gained something more profound than I could.

Series 3 of the podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. Episodes already released feature full-length interviews with Adrian Lester, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Riley, Kate Fleetwood, Sarah Ball and Jonjo O’Neill. Click here to listen!

Series 1 & 2 are also available free, along with a special live episode for Equity recorded in November 2018, and follow-up inteaviews with all seven of the emerging actors, conducted in October. Go have a listen

Daniel Crespin

Daniel Crespin. 24 year old actor, writer and musician. Recent LAMDA Graduate. Represented by Nancy Hudson Associates.