friendship

Paula Duncan on attempting to take her own life.

If you can’t quite place Paula Duncan, but her face just seems so familiar, then you’re not alone.

The actress, now 62, was a constant on Australia’s television screens through the 70s and 80s as a star of Strage Bedfellows and Cop Shop. More recently, she’s become the well-know beaming face of the Spray’N’Wipe commercials.

But the smiling, bouncy happy persona of the woman who is just so damn thrilled about her gleaming benches, contrasts deeply with the reality of what Paula Duncan has experienced during the past 20 years.

This morning she gave a heart-wrenching interview to Studio 10, speaking about her marriage breakdown, her episodic depression and how her own daughter saved her after she attempted to take her own life.

Speaking to Channel 10, Duncan talked honestly about her first marriage to co-star John Orcsik and the loneliness she felt at the same time.

“I was always smitten by John Orcsik and I think that my love for him totally overpowered my love for my baby,” Duncan told Studio 10‘s entertainment reporter, Craig Bennett.

“I felt very alone, very alone. And I just wanted him [John] to come and take care of me. I think, in fact, I wanted him to come and tell me what I was still beautiful. I felt forlorn and I felt unworthy and I felt rejected.”

Paula and John Orcsik.

This despair spiralled into depression after the pair separated, so much so that Duncan tried to take her own life, aged 43.

It was her daughter Jessica who found her.

“My first instinct was to call 000, roll her on her side ... I think for her, knowing that I found her that was the hardest thing," Jessica said.

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Paula and daughter, Jessica.

Duncan explained how the depression intensified once again after her second marriage to Steve Mason crumbled.

“Paul Hogan and Michael Caton, who were very beautiful to me, came up and said ‘I wouldn’t read the Sunday paper if I were you darl.’ And I said ‘why?’ and they said ‘well, your husband’s just admitted that he’s found his true love," Duncan said.

"I just couldn’t work at all, so they looked after me and they took me off set and I went into a very, very, very dark place.”

After a two day binge on anti-depressants, Duncan received a knock on her door; the Queen had made her an Order of Australia.

“Episodic depression is brought on by an episode, and so a lot of my life it doesn't touch me, but at some stage in my life it can and I can fall down and as high and as happy as I can be, I can be that low,” Duncan said.

“The triggers came about through feeling a sense of loss, disappointing someone else, and most of all, rejection. Rejection is something that I can’t handle.”

Want more? Try: “The upside of divorce is getting rid of your spouse.”

The news Duncan received that day changed her life. Since then she has raised over $9 million for charity.

“I say to anyone who is really down or depressed, the first thing you should do before anything else is something for someone else. Through doing something for someone else, you will be appreciated and you will find an element of self-worthiness that you’ll never, ever feel."