Pierce Brosnan: ‘I don’t look at the cup as half full’ – star’s ‘overwhelming’ depression
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The 69-year-old, who has been happily married to his second wife Keely Shaye Brosnan for more than 20 years has in the past referred to her as a “strength I wouldn’t be able to live without”, after she was able to guide him through a series of personal tragedies and subsequent mental health problems. Harris passed away shortly after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer back in the late 1980s and at the time, Brosnan struggled to cope with her death. Speaking back in 1992, four months after her death Brosnan was reported to have said: “There is an incredible cruelty in it all, losing a person you shared everything with.”
Describing bereavement as “overwhelming” Brosnan had to support not only Harris but the couple’s three children (two of whom Brosnan had adopted after the death of their father) as their mother was “invaded” by disease.
Then in 2013, almost 22 years after Harris’ death, his daughter Charlotte was taken by the same disease aged only 41, leaving behind the two children she shared with her husband Alex.
“Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, courage and dignity. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our beautiful dear girl,” Brosnan released via a statement at the time.
It was after losing his daughter Charlotte and his wife Harris that Brosnan’s mental health started to deteriorate.
Speaking about how losing his loved ones had changed him, the actor shared: “I don’t look at the cup as half full, believe me.
“The dark, melancholy Irish black dog sits beside me from time to time.”
Appearing on a Stand Up to Cancer telethon back in 2014, the actor revealed more about his heartbreak, adding: “To watch someone you love have his or her life eaten away bit by bit by this insidious disease, that kind of sorrow becomes an indelible part of your psyche.
“I held the generous, strong, beautiful hand of my first wife Cassie as ovarian cancer took her life much too soon.
“I held the hand of my funny, wonderful daughter Charlotte before she too died from this wretched, inherited disease.”
Still keeping his first wife in his memories, Brosnan married again back in 2001, calling Shayne Brosnan his “North star” who helped him move on from depression and bereavement.
He commented in the past: “I know what it is like to be a widower and what it is like to find love again. So I know there’s hope and that you have to learn to get on with it.”
Bereavement after someone dies is complex. Dr Paula L. Hensley et al defines it as a “distressing condition” which involves symptoms such as disbelief about the death, anger and bitterness, pangs of painful emotions with intense yearning for the deceased, preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, and avoidance of reminders of the loss.
Some researchers have also defined three stages of grief which are:
The first, numbness, typically lasts a few hours to a few days; essential things get done, but most are poorly remembered; anxiety and depressive symptoms may begin.
The second, depression, lasts a few weeks to a year; irritability and restlessness are prominent, but all depressive symptoms commonly occur.
The third, recovery, often begins within four months after the loss of a loved one; the bereaved accepts the death and returns to some earlier level of functioning.
However, it is important to note that in reality, little evidence exists to support the above stage theory of grief. It cannot be said that all individuals move through such stages in an orderly way.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. At this stage it doesn’t stop an individual from leading a normal life but makes everything harder to do. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make individuals feel suicidal.
Common signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is suffering from depression includes the following:
- Restless, agitated or irritable
- Guilty, worthless and down on yourself
- Empty and numb
- Isolated and unable to relate to other people
- Avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
- Self-harming or suicidal behaviour
- Difficulty speaking, thinking clearly or making decisions
- Losing interest in sex
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating on things.
The NHS advises that many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.
In order to help those suffering from bereavement or mental health difficulties, individuals can contact a support organisation such as Cruse Bereavement Care or call: 0808 808 1677.
Pierce Brosnan can be seen in Tomorrow Never Dies tonight (Monday, June 27) at 9pm on ITV4.
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