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Ruth Davidson rules out running for Tory leadership, opens up about mental health struggle

Patrick Kelleher September 16, 2018
(Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said that she has no intention of ever running for the Tory leadership because she cares too much about protecting her mental health.

Davidson made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times. In the interview, she addressed speculation that she would launch a leadership bid to succeed Theresa May, saying: “I don’t want to be prime minister.”

Pink News Summer Reception, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Ruth Davidson speaks with fellow politicians (Ashley Coombes)

The 39-year-old also said that she would not consider running for the leadership as she is pregnant, and said the idea of being away from her child for four days a week is “offensive.”

The openly gay politician revealed that she experienced severe, unrelenting depression during her teenage years, after symptoms set in when she was 17.

Davidson published her own account of her experience of depression on Twitter after her interview with The Sunday Times was released.

In the lengthy account, she says that she was “not prepared” for how lost she became when she became the first member of her family to go on to higher education.

She said that her peers “all seemed to have money and cars and an unshakeable belief in themselves and their own place in the world.”

After a boy from her local village died by suicide, Davidson went into a tail-spin.

“I started hurting myself; punching walls, cutting my stomach and arms with blades or broken glass, drinking far, far too much and becoming belligerent and angry to push people away, both punishing myself and hating myself for it at the same time.”

Davidson was diagnosed with clinical depression at 18, however anti-depressants only made her worse. She became “frightened and confused” and started to worry that she “might be going mad.”

While on medication, she started to have dark dreams and started to struggle to understand what was real and what wasn’t. She also began to have suicidal thoughts.

Ruth Davidson (Ashley Coombes)

“I would sometimes find myself almost outside my own body, mocking myself for saying stupid things in a conversation or situation.”

She said that every time she went back to her university’s doctor, her dose was doubled and the situation would only become worse.

She also referenced Winston Churchill’s famous characterisation of depression as “the black dog that followed him around.”

“For me it wasn’t something behind me, there when I turned to look. It was like a black, smothering blanket over my head, cutting out the sky. It was heavy, constricting, suffocating. It took away hope and energy and life.”

Ultimately, her life improved after she came off her medication and began to moderate her drinking, go back to church, have more structure in her days and to set goals for herself.

She added that she is “still frightened” of becoming depressed again, however she is now better equipped to deal with her mental health, and knows to return to “structure, exercise, forward momentum, measurable outcomes.”

If you have been affected by the content of this article, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123, or visit www.samaritans.org.

More: mental health, ruth davidson, Scotland, Theresa May, tory leadership

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