Ruby Wax is a loud, funny woman — who spent much of her comedy career battling depression in silence. Now her work blends mental health advocacy and laughs.

Why you should listen

Winston Churchill called it "the Black Dog" -- a depression that settled over him and drained the flavor from life. Ruby Wax knows the Black Dog well; throughout the '80s and '90s, during a flourishing career as a brash comedian and interviewer in the UK, it trotted at her heels, even while she was interviewing the Duchess of York and sorting through Imelda Marcos' shoes.

After taking a timeout to learn how to manage the condition, Wax produced a stand-up comedy show called "Losing It" that directly addresses her mental health experiences, hilariously but powerfully. And she's started up a new social network called the Black Dog Tribe, which offers a community and support to people with depression. Meanwhile, she's working on her Master's in cognitive therapy.

As she says: "I've always said to myself, if you've got a disability, use it." Read our Q&A with Ruby Wax >>

What others say

“At the gig I attended a few faces were quietly crumpling; at times when half the audience would be chuckling, the other half would be solemnly nodding at Wax’s candour.” — Judith Woods, Telegraph

Ruby Wax’s TED talk

Ruby Wax on the TED Blog

Culture

How should we talk about mental health?

December 18, 2013

Mental health suffers from a major image problem. One in every four people experiences mental health issues — yet more than 40 percent of countries worldwide have no mental health policy. Across the board it seems like we have no idea how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly. Stigma and discrimination are the two […]

Continue reading
Q&A

Why aren’t we asking the big questions? A Q&A with Ruby Wax

October 10, 2012

One in four people have some form of mental illness, and Ruby Wax wants to talk about it. Watch her TEDTalk, posted today and inspired by her show Losing It, to start the conversation. One project she didn’t get to mention onstage at TEDGlobal: This winter, Wax started up the Black Dog Tribe, an online […]

Continue reading
Health

Stop the stigma of mental illness: Ruby Wax at TEDGlobal 2012

June 27, 2012

Ruby Wax bounds onto the stage with a beaming smile and a glint in her eye. Then she says firmly, “One in four people have mental illness.” She looks down at the audience mischievously. She counts out. “You, sir, with the weird teeth. It’s you.” She points behind him. “That whole row isn’t right. Hi. […]

Continue reading

Quotes from Ruby Wax

[With depression] you get a real sense of shame, because your friends go, ‘Oh come on, show me the lump, show me the x-rays,’ and of course you've got nothing to show.
Ruby Wax
TEDGlobal 2012 • 1.5M views Oct 2012
Funny, Courageous