OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Comedian’s battle with depression
Popular Scottish comic Scott Agnew has opened up to the Reformer about his battles with drugs, drink and sex, as well as thoughts of committing suicide.
The Rutherglen man reveals he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder after years of mental health issues.
He describes the terrifying moment he thought about stepping in front of a train and reveals how his problems have inspired his comedy ahead of an appearance at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Scott said: “There’s a sticking plaster feel when people talk about mental health.
“It’s all very ‘oh, you’ll get over it’ from a lot of people, and the longer you don’t talk to anyone about it then it becomes a bigger problem in your head.”
Scott Agnew can still recall the exact time of the train he thought about stepping in front of.
The Rutherglen comedian is bringing a new show to the Edinburgh Fringe later this year, but there’s a serious side behind all the laughs.
Scott was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, after years of struggling with mental health issues.
He had problems with drugs, drink and sex, as well as thoughts of committing suicide.
He said: “A wee while back I was doing PR work for a company, which was a Monday to Friday, nine to five job.
“I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs, but the old feelings were still coming up there – every time I walked into a room, and I’ve done this for a decade, the first thought was how I could kill myself there.
“I don’t ever attempt it, but it’s always at the back of my mind – you cross the road and you’re judging how fast a car’s going and if it would hit me. So I was getting the train from High Street to my work on my first day there, and I’d noticed the train before mine didn’t stop at the station, it just went straight through.
“About eight weeks later I’d been struggling with anxiety attacks, and when I was walking to the station I realised I was a few minutes early, and that the train before efore mine was coming through.ough.
“It was at 9.18 in the morning, and I thoughtught to myself that I could just step right in front off it. That’s when I realisedsed there was something ng seriously wrong andnd I shouldn’t be having ng these sudden thoughtshts about topping myself.”f.”
Scott has now been n diagnosed as having g bipolar disorder. This s is a condition in whichh people have extremee mood swings - usually lasting weeks or months at a time - which can have a major effect on their day to day life.
It has been an understandably turbulent time for the comic, who used to work at the Reformer as a reporter over a decade ago, before he decided to focus on comedy.
His latest show for the Fringe will be mixing some “filthy stories” with a look at how his depression developed, and the problems he has found over the years. Part of the show will dwell on how he attempted to deal with his health issues by “disappearing” into things, whether that was drinking or going to sex parties that had been arranged over the internet.
That also provides some unusual tales, too.
He added: “There’s a sticking plaster feel when people talk about mental health.
“It’s all very ‘oh, you’ll get over it’ from a lot of people, and the longer you don’t talk to anyone about it then it becomes a bigger problem in your head, whereas just blurting it out once a week to a counsellor or a friend can alleviate that feeling of entrapment.
“There are ways that you go round about it, and you can laugh about it, too. I’ve seen Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite on Netflix, which does that (the American comedian’s show is based around her experiences with
bipolar disorder) and there are ridiculous things and ludicrous situations that you wouldn’t be in if you were of sound mind.
“What the show brings out is the absurd things.
“From a comedy point of view there are points when you go this is ridiculous. There was a night where people were having sex everywhere in a flat, and there was someone running around in the background putting coasters under the cups of tea that were there. You’re like, really?”
It might sound a tough period in Scott’s life, but he believes that he has now had enough distance from it all to mine it for comedy. That means that some of the other incidents that have happened, like the two times he ended up homeless, can be worked into the performance.
He explained: “I’ve always been very open about who I am – my greatest fear is someone blindsiding me with something, so if you’re the one throwing mud at yourself then it won’t stick.
“Aye, there’s bits that are difficult to talk about it again, but there’s also the fact that if you hear other people talking about it then you know you’re not alone, that you’re not the only person thinking about this.”
Throughout it all, he has still had his comedy career. A former winner of the Scottish Comedian of the Year award, Scott points to performing as being something that kept him going.
“Regardless of how wild things got, I always had comedy, because it was the only thing that gave me a sense of being me.
“I suppose that ’ s cont rol freakery, because it ’s somewhere where I am entirely in control of everything. So that kept me sane, that overwhelming desire to be onstage.”
His story Scott Agnew opens up about his mental health torment
Scott will perform at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh from August 3 until August 29, at 10pm each night. For more information on bipolar disorder visit http:// www.nhs.uk/Conditions/ Bipolar-disorder/Pages/ Introduction.aspx
Fringe benefits Scott will take his show to the Edinburgh festival