Celebrities are said to live their lives in a goldfish bowl, such is the level of media interest in every aspect of their personal as well as professional lives. No doubt this accounts for how the mental health difficulties of Adam Ant, the British pop singing sensation of the 1980s, first became public knowledge – at least, those difficulties which led to the compulsory treatment orders that were placed upon him a decade or so ago. Ridicule may be nothing to be scared of but, by virtue of being in the public eye, he has had to bear more than most. Yet it is striking to note the courageous way in which the singer has chosen to respond to the intrusive press reports of that time. In publicity associated with his recent return to the music business, he said of his own mental health history: “It’s not something I’m ashamed of. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I did wrong things as a result of it. But there’s only one thing worse than making a mistake, and that’s not learning from it… and I’ve learnt from it.”1
Telling Admissions 2Published April 16, 2013 Personal Accounts Leave a Comment
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Further, in his published autobiography Ant gives details of an intense trauma – culminating in a suicide attempt – which was the occasion of a much earlier psychiatric hospitalisation, but also led to him discarding his given name – Stuart Goddard – in favour of the one by which he later became so well known.
“Adam Ant was born in 1976, in the grey, cold, echoing emergency ward of Friern Barnet Hospital, North London. He was smacked into consciousness by a hard-faced and overworked charge nurse, who calmly said, ‘Wake up, you little bastard’.
“Satisfied that I was awake she left me alone. Somewhere out of sight down a winding, peeling corridor a woman was screaming. There was no one else in the emergency room. As I sat up, groggy and feeling lost, I saw the name Stuart Goddard written in chalk on a board next to a door marked ECG.
“But I had killed Stuart Goddard. A handful of my mother-in-law’s pills taken from the yellow cabinet in her bathroom had done the job.”2
From Ant’s account it might not be too much to infer that this crisis proved to be the fulcrum of his career. The ‘rebranding’ of his own person is permanent testament to his having weathered that storm, and emerged the stronger for it. “I really knew I wanted to be Adam”, he said later, “because Adam was the first man. Ant I chose because, if there’s a nuclear explosion, the ants will survive.”1
1 Matt Everitt, ‘Adam Ant on fame, depression and infamy’, BBC News website, 23 February 2011.
2 Adam Ant, Stand and Deliver: The Autobiography (Pan Books, 2007), p. 1.