There’s many a thing we can make fun of Libertines/Babyshambles front man Pete Doherty for. His obvious indifference towards clocks, the antics with mice and the complete confusion over whether it’s Pete or Peter… oh yeah, there’s some drugs in the mix somewhere too.
So when The Libertines cancelled their Electric Ballroom show last Thursday, two hours after they were due on stage. It was pretty inevitable those jokes would come back around. As someone who finds a fair few of them distasteful, you learn to tolerate them. Kinda like 90% of the world’s population feels about “The Lad Bible”.
But there’s a moment when a line is crossed…and that moment came yesterday.
After days of wild speculation (or everyone saying he’d overdosed/relapsed), it was finally revealed that the reasoning for Pete’s absence from Thursday’s show was due to a serious anxiety attack. While a fair few people had kind words of support, there were just too many idiots on show… as evidenced by this small collective of comments on the story.
Pretty idiotic right? But that’s just a small minority of people I hear you cry! There’s more…
Some people probably wonder right now, why I’m so bothered. The reason is that I also suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. It’s hard enough to make people realize the struggle that sufferers experience without having people stigmatize with the classic “first world problems” or “you liar” accusations.
I’ve suffered from anxiety for about two years now. I’ve always been a bit odd socially, either playing it up or totally going quiet, but this was something entirely different. Mine was also fueled by a previously diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which effectively means to an outsider that you feel depressed in the winter months. Except it’s not just feeling a tad blue, it’s literally a case of spending every winter evening strangely drained of all energy and feeling like you’re trying to climb out of a bottomless pit in order to do the things that used to spur your life on.
Adding the panic attacks to this mix was just the icing on the cake really. Out of nowhere I’d be hit by this fear, an unrealistic panic over nothing, but of course you don’t know that at the time. Then before I know it, I’m collapsed on the floor, hyperventilating and convulsing. This would happen several times a day.
Before you know it, you’re consumed by a new anxiety… the anxiety attacks themselves. What if it happens to me in public. For the initial period after these attacks started I consciously decided to stay out the way of as much stuff as possible, ordering all my shopping in and only venturing to safe zones like my girlfriend’s house or to the corner shop if I really needed something.
So I totally get the reasonings behind Pete’s anxiety attack and no show. You build up a situation (in this case, going on stage) into something that balloons and balloons into something worse and worse until you enter a situation where you fight the issue head on or run away from it. Most sufferers of anxiety will feel forced to take the later.
The fact that The Libertine’s management have decided it’s safest to postpone shows is totally the most responsible decision in this scenario. While trying to get on with life as normal is admirable, you need sometimes to be able to have time to recover when the wheels come off, as they eventually do. Look at the recent touring, recording, promotional schedule and you find a schedule that for a recovering addict is not only admirable but full on astonishing. The irony is, that behind this strong work ethic of late, it’s going to be the one thing he couldn’t help that’s brought back the former accusations of drug addiction and tardiness.
Using accusations like “first world problems”, “lazy” or “liar” in regards to anxiety and depression, is not only widely false, but also desperately irresponsible in regards to the recovery of sufferers.
Just think before you hit the send key…
Go to www.mind.org.uk for more info.