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Ruby Wax interview: We are addicted to bad news but we can break free

There is plenty to worry about right now, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the reasons for optimism, says comedian and mental health advocate Ruby Wax

Humans



30 September 2020

RUBY WAX is on a serious mission to improve people’s mental health. The American-British TV star, comedian, author and mental health advocate found fame in the 1980s TV sitcom Girls on Top and went on to deploy her comic persona of a brash, overconfident American in multiple comedy interview shows. Yet it is her experience with depression and stress that has shaped much of her more recent career. Her encounter with major depression 15 years ago led her to earn a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at the University of Oxford, an experience she incorporated into a stage show. For this, as well as her writing about depression and mindfulness, she was awarded an OBE, one of the highest civilian honours in the UK.

Wax has also set up community groups where, before lockdown, people could meet up and chat; these have now moved online. In her fifth and latest book, And Now for the Good News… To the future with love, Wax goes on a whirlwind world tour to meet innovators in schools, businesses and communities whose work she believes shows things are looking up.

Clare Wilson: Now seems an odd time for a book about optimism. Why did you write it?

Ruby Wax: We were besieged by bad news, even before covid. We were going on a drip feed, from one disaster to another, and we were getting addicted to it – at least, I was. I couldn’t wait for more bad news, and you could gossip about it. But where you pay your attention defines your reality. Your brain is shaped by what …