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Get recovered: Ben Pearce tells us how close he came to calling time on his career

The DJ cancelled some live dates last year due to struggles with depression

  • Words: Ben Pearce | Illustration: James Clapham
  • 1 February 2017

This time last year I was in a bad place. I was terrified, and felt guilty for feeling the way I did while being in such a privileged position. This only added to everything that was going through my head already. I was drinking every day, quite often starting in the mornings. I didn’t understand what was happening: it felt like a weight on my shoulders, a cloud over my head constantly, a misty window through which I saw the whole world carrying on without me.

I started DJing from a passion and a love for music. This seemed far removed, though, when I set off to go and play shows each weekend. I was nervous. I had never been nervous before but I’d be physically shaking, vomiting and often getting extremely emotional just before I went on stage. I managed to hide it for a long time; I didn’t want anybody to think I was ungrateful for what I did, or that I didn’t enjoy it. ‘Why aren’t you smiling?’ asked one beaming clubber who was clearly having the time of their life. Why indeed.

I came very close to throwing my life away. This, perhaps, was the catalyst for me to take a few steps back and stop myself. I sought professional help. The decision to step back from shows entirely came a few months later: I felt I needed a break to readjust. I experienced a lot of personal turmoil at the same time: unsurprisingly, the black dog bites into a lot of your life and it can force you to push people away. I became a recluse, not wanting to have any social contact whatsoever. I knew I’d become a burden, and that felt repulsive to me.

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