Grange Hill star George Wilson has opened up on his secret battle with bipolar.
The Ziggy actor joined the BBC school drama at the age of 15 – but admits he struggled dealing with the fame at such a young age.
Speaking on today’s This Morning, George opened up on how he spent years secretly battling an undiagnosed mental health disorder, which left him hospitalised multiple times.
George was only diagnose with bipolar at the age of 43 and didn’t speak to any of his co-stars about his struggles.
On the exact moment George thought something serious might be wrong, he described: “On the Isle of Wight I just started crying for no reason. I’m not a person that cries a lot, but I just found myself breaking down doing scenes and I would just walk away and hide behind a rock. It sounds mad, but just to get composed.”
Having successfully been cast in Grange Hill, George moved to London with his family, but after about four years the pressure started to get to him.
George explained: “Things build up. I’m not saying fame is a bad thing, because it can be a good thing, but sometimes it can be a bad thing – you can meet the wrong people.
“Being recognised everywhere you go, was starting to get to me a bit at that age.”
In 1989 George sadly lost his grandmother and then he witnessed the Hillsborough disaster, which he never thought he could talk about because he wasn’t directly involved as he sat in a different stand.
He said: “I wasn’t in the Leppings Lane End, luckily my mate picked to go in the other end, because he had been in the Leppings Lane End the year before and he knew what hell it was.
“So we went into the North Stand, but it overlooked it all. So I saw it, but I didn’t like to talk about it really because I thought, ‘I’ve got no right really, because I wasn’t in the crush.’
“I didn’t want it to look like I was jumping on some sort of horrific bandwagon, so I kept quiet. We all did, all of my pals that went really never spoke about it.
“But it builds up in your mind and you dream about it. So that came out in later stages of when I wasn’t well. I was having delusions and imagining things, that was a big player.”
George soon struggled to find suitable acting roles and was then arrested for smoking cannabis.
He said: “When I came out of Grange Hill I thought I was going to be Brad Pitt, I thought I was going to walk into Hollywood… because that’s what I just knew for the past four or five years… But I realised it wasn’t to be and I had to work normal jobs and later on I didn’t mind that, but first of all it was difficult because they would say, ‘What’s Ziggy doing here?’ and giving me abuse behind my back.
“It eventually came to a climax… I was imagining so many frightening things and they’re all coming at you at once. I’m talking about a million miles an hour and I just lost it totally and smashed my loft up, which had all of my most beautiful things I had collected over the years. I threw them out of the window. Just out of control.”
Following this, George spent six months in hospital before moving to Spain, but was hit again in South Wales in 1999.
George has written about his mental health struggles in his new book: “I wrote it as a therapeutic thing more than anything. I found I had time on my hands last year, it was the first time I was out of work for a while. I wrote that book as a warning in a way for people who have got what I’ve got and have been through, or going through, what I have been through. To see where I went wrong and think, ‘God, I won’t do that or I’ll try that what he done.’”
And on how he is now, George said: “That’s the good thing, things are happening for me now. It’s been a long time since I was in hospital, seven or eight years. The phones are going again now, I’m getting scripts, auditions. I take life a lot easier than I used to.”
*This Morning airs weekdays on ITV at 10am