Why is Ant McPartlin one more tragic celebrity car-crash?

Why is Ant McPartlin one more tragic celebrity car-crash? 150 150 Jane Evans

Last night my good friend Laura Henry messaged me the word trauma?

Ant McPartlin ‘arrested on suspicion of drink-driving’ TV presenter reportedly questioned after failing a breathalyser test following London collision. (The Guardian)

Laura was posing the right question. What trauma has there been in Ant McPartlin’s life? Why has he been self-medicating with prescription drugs and alcohol? It has been attributed to horrific pain from knee surgery, but I fear that this will have only been a culmination of so much more.

How high anxiety or trauma plays out in the body and brain 
  • Infertility
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Prescription drug use
  • Physical injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Low mood
  • Aggression

Earlier this year, Ant McPartlin checked into rehab, explaining how a knee injury two years ago led him to become addicted to prescription pain medication. (The Independent)

After just 2 months, so 8 weeks or 56 days Ant was out of rehab. He faced the break-up of his marriage, moving out of his home, and being back at work fully in the public eye, performing. At the time I predicted a car crash but didn’t envisage it would be a real one involving a family with a young child.

Where is the childhood trauma?

Ant describes his childhood in glowing terms, having lived right by his grandparents. Researching it, I found his father left the family when he was just 10 years old. His Mum then set about doing whatever she could to keep them afloat. At 13 Ant entered the artificial world of TV acting, singing and as a host. I mention childhood trauma not as an excuse, but as a means of understanding Ant’s behaviours.

Limited reality exists in the adrenalin-fuelled TV world. Performing means being someone other than you, which can be an efficient way of avoiding deep emotional pain. From 12 years of age, Ant had to show up, smile, be another person, be funny and full of life, give others what is needed, go home.

Shame will dog Ant

I imagine Ant will feel deeply ashamed and upset that he scared and hurt a family, especially a young child. This shame will add to his other buried feelings of inadequacy. At the same time, his employers will be in turmoil looking for a way to rescue the situation to keep him working.

Ant will likely be off to rehab ASAP. Unless it is trauma-informed, with focus on what lies beyond his drinking, smoking and drug use it won’t change much. Addictions and fear go hand-in-glove, the work of Dr. Gabor Mate, In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, makes this very clear.

“At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only toward the next time, the moment when her brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future—the two elements that make the present intolerable.”

Performance can be all a tragic avoidance of real feelings

When on set or stage there is no time for connection with feelings unless the role demands it. Afterwards, they will come rushing in unless there is some trusted person around to offer a deep human connection to processing and support them. Otherwise, numbing them out feels essential.

When I google-searched celebrity suicides and overdoses there were so many, I had to stop…

Today’s children are bombarded by messages about being famous

Be a singer, footballer, actress, writer, athlete, reality star….the list goes on. Be famous and life will be better.

We need to pay attention to this as fame is artificial, fickle and is rarely an opportunity for people to become rounded human beings. It demands the putting on of a face and a persona; don’t be too real, unless of course, the interview or role requires it.

Make sure to gently check-in with children or young people as they may have questions about Ant’s behaviour. Spend some time exploring it all with them at their pace:

  • How do you think Ant is feeling today
  • Why do you think being famous might make this easier or harder for Ant?
  • What do you think Ant might need now?
  • How has it surprised you that someone who looks so happy and funny on TV could do this?
  • What do you think the family who was hurt need from Ant?
  • What should be Ant’s next step?

Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans
1 comment
  • Jeannette parker

    I agree and have total empathy for Ant, however he must have had ample time where he could have told anyone, his mother etc that he had a drink, he could have walked to the park to walk his dogs. I feel sad that he put others in danger and wish he had the courage to talk. Trauma is complicated and I wish him well.

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