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Depression made Alastair Campbell cruel, partner Fiona Millar says

The pair worked together for former prime minister Tony Blair.

Fiona Millar has spoken about the illness of husband Alastair Campbell (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Fiona Millar has spoken about the illness of husband Alastair Campbell (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The partner of Alastair Campbell has said depression could change the personality of the former spin-doctor and make him cruel and manipulative.

Fiona Millar claimed the alcohol abuse and undiagnosed depression of her partner became a struggle to understand and live with.

Campbell could become aggressive and cruel, according to Millar, and his drinking at one time was “epidemic”.

Millar has said that not enough is offered to discuss or support being a partner of someone suffering from depression, an illness which Campbell explores in a new BBC documentary.

Speaking to Radio Times magazine, Millar, who worked with her partner at Number 10 under Tony Blair, has said she never considered leaving Campbell despite the depths of his moods.

Millar admitted she was once asked by her father whether she wanted to remain with Campbell after the former Daily Mirror journalist’s drinking began to spiral out of control, and has been hurt by his silences since.

But she has said that with diagnosis, medication and psychiatric help, life with Campbell is “better than ever”, and she has come to understand more about his illness.

Millar added: “There was emotional manipulation and mental cruelty at times. ”

She described Campbell’s bout of alcoholism: “A change of job in the mid-1980s followed by a period of intense stress saw Alastair’s drinking reach epidemic proportions. His behaviour became erratic and aggressive.”

Millar added on his depression after quitting alcohol: “He is also loyal, funny, brilliant in a crisis and can be very kind, especially to friends in need, but his behaviour can tip into something more dangerous.”

“Only now do I realise his depressions could change his personality.”

Millar has said that Campbell would be affectionate with his three children and rally himself for work despite being unable to leave bed on the weekend during depressive episodes. His moods would range from happy to suicidal.

She struggled to understand why the emotional impact of his “black dog” moods was reserved for her.

Millar has said that despite the struggles, she remained with him and her intentions were always to help Campbell get better”.

She has said the partners of those with depression should have greater support and a growing awareness of mental health can make the illness bearable and understandable.

The full interview can be read in Radio Times magazine, out now.

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