Former Silverchair singer Daniel Johns has revealed he self-medicated with alcohol to manage a serious mental health illness he has had for 15 years.
The singer and guitarist told Andrew Denton’s Interview he struggled with feeling “constantly panicked” for more than a decade before he got help.
“I have had a pretty serious anxiety disorder for 15 years, and it got really bad at a point. I was not coping. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”
During his first talk show interview in 12 years, Johns attributed his worrying public behaviour in 2015 and 2016 to his anxiety.
Johns said he has since managed to get his anxiety under control after therapy and taking medicine to stop him from shaking.
When asked by Denton if he also had a “problem with addiction” at the time, Johns said he had been trying to self-manage his condition.
“I was medicating my anxiety with alcohol, a lot, and I didn’t know what it was. I was misdiagnosed a lot of things,” he said.
“I didn’t know what I had, so I didn’t know how to deal with it, and the only thing that I found that worked was alcohol, so I was drinking alcohol to keep that at bay.”
“But it didn’t work, and then I got diagnosed with this — I don’t want to say what it is — this anxiety disorder, and now I am a perfect specimen.”
Johns has returned to music with electronic two-person duo Dreams alongside former Emipire of The Sun lead singer Luke Steele.
The new venture is a personal victory for Johns, who was left unable to write music at the height of his anxiety battle.
“If that gets out of control music doesn’t come anymore, there’s too much doubt and too much fear it won’t come out,” he said of the years following Silverchair’s disbandment.
“I couldn’t write words because I was so scared about what I was going to say, because I didn’t feel good, so I didn’t want to write.”
Many of his fans also expected him to tour his 2015 solo album Talk but we didn’t see any shows after a debut solo show at the Sydney Opera House.
It was stage fright that prevented him from doing so with Johns saying, “I was just too scared. I was just too worried.”
“My mind exploded. I get stage fright and can get really anxious,” Johns said.
When Denton suggested he’d love to be able to take a walk around inside Johns’s head, the musician and former Silverchair frontman said, “No you wouldn’t. It’s bloody chaotic.”
“I’m really happy but my head is chaotic,” he continued. “I wish I could just shut it off some times. Nothing really shuts it off. It’s all maintenance, it’s all keeping things at bay for the most part, delicately spinning plates.”
According to ADAA.org, Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.