Archbishop says he would feel ‘worse than Eeyore’ without medication

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is able to feel like an “average sort of human being” after taking antidepressants. Justin Welby, 67, told his worshippers this week that his medication helps his mood and has restored him “to Eeyore status from something much worse.

He made reference to AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh’s morose but lovable donkey character during his third of three lectures staged at Canterbury Cathedral to mark Holy Week.

During his lectures he spoke on the themes of optimism, despair and hope and said: “I am on antidepressants. They work very well. They restore me to Eeyore status from something much worse.

“As the psychiatrist I see tells me, the aim is not to make me so laid back that I’m horizontal, but just to settle things enough that I react like an average sort of human being. I’m sad when things are sad and happy when they’re happy, and so on and so forth.”

During his first lecture he underlined how Milne’s characters could offer an insight into different personalities from bouncy Tigger, who was effervescent, to the gloomy donkey Eeyore.

“Some of us are Tiggers, some of us are Eeyores,” he said. “Probably some of us are many of the other characters in Winnie the Pooh.

“Rowan Williams [the former Archbishop of Canterbury] once said to me: ‘There is almost no human situation that cannot be explained with the hermeneutical tools of Winnie the Pooh.’ Only Rowan could say that and be both humorous and profound at the same time.”

In his second lecture he focused on that “despair is a deeply human emotion” and warned “a society without God is a society for which despair may become the only way forward.”

Mr Welby said: “A worldview without God may still enable a person to act well in love, mercy and justice. They may still surrender their lives in love for one another.

“But such a philosophical view, for to be an atheist, is a courageous form of philosophy. Such a philosophical view makes autonomy an idol, and all idols let us down. None of us are really autonomous … We are all interdependent.”

He added: “It is just at the moments when we’re without options that we throw ourselves unconditionally … on the mercy and grace of God. And we find that there are options.”

He wrote in a letter to heads of other Christian churches this week, he said: “In our own time, it can be … very easy to feel depleted by events, and to keep our eyes on the ground.

‘This has been a year of great suffering, sadness, uncertainty, and fear for so many people around the world.

‘In this country many have continued to endure the hardships of the cost of living crisis. Around the world, millions are caught up in war.”

In a message to mark Easter, he added: “One of the tasks of Christians is surely to keep reminding people steadfastly of that horizon of hope, the risen Jesus.”

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