The Madness of Prince Charming

by Suw on July 17, 2003

Adam Ant was one of the first pop stars I was aware of, and certainly the first I mimicked, the first one I wanted to be like. He was the object of one of my first crushes, along with Terry Hall of The Specials. I think it was the cheekbones, to be honest, and the amazingly beautiful green eyes. Possibly the style. The voice. The sparkle. The confidence. The gold braided into his hair.

When Adam ended up in court a year or so ago and his manic depression became headline news, all I felt was sympathy for him. The press, on the other hand, seemed to quite enjoy ripping him to shreds. It seems it doesn’t matter how many years ago your poppy grew tall, they’ll cut you down even when you’re old enough to have little poppies all of your own. Once a target, always a target.

This evening on Channel 4 was a documentary about Adam’s battle with manic depression, about how it both fuelled and damaged his career, and the external influences that amplified it and lead to him putting a car alternator through a pub window in 2002. It was quite a heart-rending watch.

You don’t get cured of depression, manic or otherwise. I think the best you can hope for is to get it under control and learn to see the danger signs ahead of time so that you can do something about it. I also think that it takes a lot of courage for a public figure like Adam to allow his demons to be dissected on TV, to do interviews about what it’s like to live with mental illness, how it feels, how it affects you.

There are a lot of ignorant people kicking about who think that depression is something that you ?get over?, that you just need to ?pull your socks up? and ?cheer up?, and then miraculously everything will be ok. Anyone who’s had depression knows that’s not the case, that even when you’re feeling fine, these demons aren’t going away. They’re there, sitting on your shoulder for the rest of your life, and if you’re not strong and you’re not in fighting form, then they can easily take the reins and bingo, you’re back in the thick of it again.

It’s so not the done thing, particularly in the UK, to stand up and admit that you’ve suffered depression (or any other mental illness for that matter). You risk marking your card, blotting your copybook, being seen forever as a nut. Of course, it’s slightly easier on the net, because you’re not actually facing your audience, you’re just typing into oblivion.

To stand up and be counted in public, on tv, to me, that’s almost unimaginable, and I am completely in awe of Adam Ant for doing that. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him, and I sincerely hope that he can get his demons caged and start to enjoy living his life fully again.

Me, I’ve never dealt with anything quite as severe as what Adam’s gone through, but I have suffered with depression in the past. These days, my demons are shackled, but not caged. Currently I see they’re straining in their bindings, struggling to get free. But I’m not going to let them. If I have anything to do with it, the little fuckers will rot in their chains until hell freezes over.

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