Former Hollyoaks star Davinia Taylor on how running helped beat her demons after crippling battle with post-natal depression and losing custody of son Grey, 10, to David Beckham's best friend

The 40-year-old, who played Jude Cunningham in the Channel 4 soap from 1996 until 1998, suffered from the mental health condition before and after her pregnancy with first child, Grey, now 10.

Davinia was married to first husband Dave Gardner – who is David Beckham's best friend – at the time, but after the couple divorced in 2010 a custody battle followed, with the judge ruling in his favour.

Davinia has gone on to have three more children, one with an unnamed ex and two with partner Matthew Leyden, but her battle with depression is still vivid in her memory, and so she has decided to run the London Marathon this weekend to raise money for mental health charity, Mind.

Writing on her Virgin Money fundraising page, the star opened up about her experience, saying: "As a mother of four boys and someone who has experienced post natal depression I ask you to give what you can afford to Mind.

"Depression literally crippled me silently creeping into my thought process throughout my first pregnancy and beyond.

"It took away any magic and wonder and let me down a toxic path of self destruction.

"From the outside I appeared a woman with everything to be grateful for, yet ,on the inside I was screaming underwater for answers to questions I couldn’t articulate.

"I felt dumbfounded and mentally I was a prisoner on a merry go round of negative thinking and feelings of dread and failure.

"Much like an imminent tragedy waiting to happen, the feeling of waiting for the axe to fall came in waves through my whole body as my brain slowly cancelled out any positive emotion as it scanned for nightmareish scenarios without my permission.

"I have no idea why it hit me.

"There is no trauma in my life to pinpoint, maybe its genetic, maybe its hormonal, maybe both, but what I do know is, my brain and my thought process were not mine to command anymore and it nearly cost me my life.

"We need answers. We need more research. We need more support and we need less stigma to this condition.

"One day hopefully we will be able to have some sort of scan and actually see and look at the physical image of depression, maybe then can we fully and truly understand that the enemy is the mental illness and not the sufferer.

"I’m honestly dreading this marathon but I’d rather run ten marathons back to back than suffer one hour of the debilitating feeling I experienced in the dark depths of depression ….."

So far, Davinia has raised £3,770 of her £10,000 target. To donate visit her page here

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