Ruby Wax on building an emotional toolkit for the second half of your life

OK, I admit it, I’m a bit in awe, because today’s guest is someone I’ve wanted to get on The Shift for the longest time. You might know Ruby Wax as a successful comedian and presenter, one of the funniest women of her generation. Or you might know her as a mental health campaigner and best-selling author. One thing’s for sure, she has been using humour to make the rest of us feel better for decades.

Having suffered depression her whole life, Ruby had a breakdown after losing her job on the BBC in her 50s (hold that thought!). Determined not to “go down with the career ship” she took herself off to Oxford university where she got a masters degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy, was subsequently awarded an OBE for services to mental health and has written several bestselling books about our brains - and hers. 

Then, last year, 12 years after her last bout of depression, she discovered she wasn’t actually as well as she thought she was… Cue the inspiration for a new book, and tour.

Ruby and I met in an office overlooking the Thames the day after a big birthday (which we will not be talking about!!) to discuss why depression is the wrong word for mental illness and the journeys to find meaning that saw her end up on a journey to a 6 week stay in a mental clinic.

We also talked about building a new emotional toolkit for the second half of your life, the secret to her 35 year marriage and why we need to stop talking ageing and start talking evolving. There’s also hair dye, mindfulness, a Carrie Fisher love-in, jewellery and toe nails. It’s all going on in this episode!

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr, the book Ruby talks about in this episode, is available here.

You can catch Ruby on a UK wide tour, starting in September, tickets are available now via

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on, including I'm Not As Well As I Thought I Was by Ruby Wax and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.

* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including transcripts of the podcast, please consider joining The Shift community. Find out more at

And if you already subscribe - did you know you can buy a Gift Membership of The Shift for a friend at

The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.