Grange Hill star George Christopher revealed how finding fame as Ziggy Greaves at 15 and witnessing the Hillsborough disaster, triggered his Bipolar breakdown.
George, 49, from Liverpool, appeared on This Morning today, where he opened up about being diagnosed with the disorder in 2011, after years of trauma ‘eventually came to climax’.
He was hospitalised twice after ‘out of control’ breakdowns after suffering years of ‘frightening delusions’ caused by the pressures of child fame and witnessing the tragic disaster at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, in April 1989.
He told how after he left the show the age of 18, he was forced to step out of the spotlight as acting jobs dried up, had began to have vivid nightmares about Hillsborough, and was devastated when he lost his nan.
He said: ‘It eventually came to climax and I was imagining so many things, I won’t even go into it. There’s so many, frightening things all coming at you at once, a million miles an hour.
‘I totally lost it and smashed my loft up and so many things I had collected over the years, threw them out the window and it was just out of control.’
The star spent six months in hospital, but after another breakdown eight years later that ‘hit him like a hurricane’, he was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2011 and last year detailed his torment in his book, ‘From Grange Hill To Bipolar and Back’.
He said: ‘It came at me like a hurricane, the second one I was okay for eight years and then it kept hitting me in my prime.
‘It’s so grueling in a way, because I’d just be getting back and then it would hit me – it got me again in 1999 in South Wales. I’d overdone it, I’d over worked, I was out drinking’.
George landed his role in the popular TV show in 1986 and went on to stay with the programme until in 1989 and confessed that in his last year on the show his mental health began to crumble.
He explained: ‘The first four years doing the show were great and there was no problems, but towards the end pressure was getting to me a bit.
‘Things build up, I’m not saying fame is a bad thing, but sometimes it can be a bad thing.
‘Getting in with the wrong people, being recognised everywhere you go, it got to me a bit at that age.
I started crying for no reason, I’m not a person who cries a lot. I found myself breaking down while doing scenes and hiding just to get composed.’
He went on to admit that added pressure came after he left the show, and realised the brutal reality of the entertainment industry.
‘When I came out of Grange Hill I thought I was going to be Brad Pitt’ , said George.
‘But it wasn’t to be and I realised I had to work normal jobs. Later on I didn’t mind that, but at the time it was difficult.
‘People would give me abuse behind my back and it was hard and my nan passed away and all these things built up.’
As well as pressure after leaving Grange Hill and mourning his grandmother, George told that he never shared his feelings about witnessing the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, because he felt he had ‘no right’ to jump on the ‘horrific bandwagon’.
He said: ‘We went into the North Stand so I’d seen it, but I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt I had no right.
‘I wasn’t in the crush, so I didn’t want to look like I was jumping on some horrific bandwagon. So I kept quiet, we all did.
‘But it builds up in your mind and you dream about it, that came out in later stages when I wasn’t well. I was having delusions and imagining things and that was a big player.’
However things are looking up for George, and he told how he’s finally beginning to get ‘scrips and auditions’ again, and insisted he wants to help others who may be unknowingly suffering with the same disorder.