The Archbishop of Canterbury said it was ‘very odd’ to feel the love of God and a ‘real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself’ simultaneously.
20 February 2022
The Archbishop of Canterbury says his faith acted as a “safety net” at times in his life when he struggled with depression.
Justin Welby said that it was “very odd” to feel the love of God and a “real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself” simultaneously.
He opened up about his personal experiences in the first episode of The Archbishop Interviews, a new programme on BBC Radio 4 and BBC sounds.
In the episode, Mr Welby spoke with author Elif Shafak and explored the topics of faith, doubt and depression.
“My own experience of depression – one of the symptoms of it is self-hatred, self-contempt, real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself,” he said.
“And that seems very odd when it combines with also a deep sense that I’m loved by god. And in my life that expressed itself almost as a safety net.
“I would say in my prayers – I may be this terrible person, this failure as an Archbishop, whatever it is, but I know you know me better than I know myself and you still love me.
“And by that I am held.”
Mr Welby said a book written by his daughter, Katherine Welby-Roberts, had encouraged him to speak to others and get help.
“For me one of the most important things was a book written by our eldest daughter about her own depression,” he said.
“She had a breakdown and very severe depression and still suffers from illness, and she’s married now with two children.
“She wrote a beautiful book called I Thought There Would Be Cake. In other words, when she was grown up, there’d be cake. And how different it was.
And in that there was a chapter about the need to be open to speak to others. And so I did.
“I went to get some help and that has made a huge difference.”
The first episode of The Archbishop Interviews airs on Sunday at 1.30pm on Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.