CONTENT WARNING: This post deals with mentions of depression and suicide ideation and may be triggering for some readers. Please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 if you’re struggling with symptoms of mental illness.
It’s the reality TV show most of Australia greedily devoured night after night, drawn to the intense drama often culminating in huge, fiery arguments.
To most of us, Married at First Sight is guilty-pleasure watching at its finest. The trash TV we crave.
But for Clare Verrall, a contestant from season two of the experiment, MAFS is far more than merely mindless entertainment.
It’s the show that almost killed her.
Speaking on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, the 35-year-old recruitment consultant shared that her experience on the show left her in a place so dark, she tried to end her life.
Listen to The Quicky on what life is really like after reality TV. Post continues after audio.
“I didn’t sign up to have absolutely no support. I didn’t sign up… to have my life… completely ripped to shreds. I didn’t sign up for that,” she said.
She was matched with Jono Pitman, the guy who infamously said, “She’s not what I ordered” as she walked down the aisle.
Clare and Jono’s marriage was brief but turbulent, and it was far from what either of them had imagined when they signed up for the experience.
But it was the aftermath that almost killed her.
Before filming for her season began, Clare was the victim of a terrifying random attack. A man grabbed her on the street, and although she managed to fight him off, the incident left her suffering serious PTSD.
As a coping mechanism, Clare took Valium and consumed a lot of alcohol while filming the second season of MAFS.
After an incident with Jono, Clare left the show early. She was thrown back into her normal life and left to cope with her new found fame, on top of her debilitating PTSD.
Speaking to Mamamia recently, Clare said her life “spiralled” after her appearance on the show, and she wasn’t able to return to the job she had loved for two years.
“I actually spiralled right down. My family had to put me in a trauma facility for a month which cost them $30,000,” she told Clare Murphy, host of The Quicky.
On Sunday Night, she spoke candidly about what led her to the depths of clinical depression.
“It is actually torture,” she said of filming MAFS.
“The sleep deprivation. You get to the point where you’re so tired and you’re so broken and you just want to stop, that you will say whatever they feed you. Sure, it may have almost killed me.”
Clare tried to leave the show early on, but the producers didn’t want her going anywhere, and they did all they could to make her stay.
“After the honeymoon because we realised we were both completely incompatible and… but we were being fed things like, ‘No, no, no.’ ‘He’s saying he really likes you’ and this and I’m like, I have made really bad choices with my love life. Like, maybe they’re right.”