OUT OF THE DARK­NESS

Co­me­dian’s bat­tle with de­pres­sion

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Jonathan Ged­des

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

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