Buy Darts - James Wade bouncing back after Priory help
By Mike Walters, Daily Mirror James Wade (Pic: Getty)
Little did he know it during the dramatic collapse, but James Wade would soon be on suicide watch in the Priory.
And when he resurfaced after 30 days of intensive treatment, he was greeted by some fellow professionals calling him ‘nutter’ to his face.
This weekend, Wade returns to Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall, scene of his Devon Loch moment 12 months ago, ready to confront the demons of his blow-out in last year’s Grand Slam of Darts final against Scott Waites.
Leading 8-0, Wade’s game went to pieces and he lost 16-12 in one of sport’s biggest-ever turnarounds.
Within five weeks, the underlying reason for Wade’s darkest hour on the oche became harrowingly evident. Knocked out of the world championship at Alexandra Palace by Austrian no-hoper Mensur Suljovic, Wade checked into a rehab clinic and was diagnosed with bipolar and attention deficit disorders.
Bravely, he went public – and was rewarded by winning the UK Open at Bolton, to the unfamiliar backdrop of supportive crowds chanting his name.
Yesterday, as he prepared for his Grand Slam comeback, Wade reclined on the sofa at his Aldershot home and laid bare his soul about the most extraordinary year of his life.
“Once it became common knowledge I had been in the Priory, one or two players – I won’t name names – greeted me by calling me ‘nutter’ when they bumped into me backstage,” he said.
“Even if they meant it as a joke, it was a snide remark, a cheap shot. But you’ve got to laugh at yourself sometimes, haven’t you? And you know what? I’ve changed my walk-on music... to Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal!”
Wade, 28, needn’t worry about his reception when he opens his campaign against Dave Chisnall on Saturday night. Whatever they thought of him before, the ‘Machine’ is one of the good guys now. Fans respect him for laying his cards on the table – not that Wade is taking their goodwill for granted.
“That oche is the loneliest place in the world when the crowd are booing you,” he said. “It’s soul-destroying, it kills you. And it can nibble away at your confidence, your self-esteem, without you realising it.
“I didn’t notice any hostility towards me at the Grand Slam last year, but I’ve always had those moments where I’ve been winning a big match and then I switch off. That’s what happened against Waites, but in a big way. After, I was angry with myself, but now I know there was an underlying reason for it.
“I had already been consulting a psychiatrist to help me cope with my mood swings, and some of the medication he prescribed was making me bounce off the walls one minute or walk on stage like a zombie the next. But it all came to a head at Ally Pally. Don’t ask me how I won my first-round match because I haven’t got a clue, and when Suljovic beat me I was glad to be out of it. My mind was all over the place.
“I didn’t care about darts any more, I knew there was something wrong because I wanted to go to sleep, have a heart attack and not wake up. Next day my dad, Martin, took me to the Priory. “When they asked me if I wanted to kill myself, I told them ‘Yes, I’d like to, but I don’t think I’ve got the bottle to go through with it’ and they told me I was OK to go home.
“But as I was about to get in the car, I said to my dad, ‘No, if I don’t sort this out here and now I will never get it sorted.’
“When he looked me in the eyes and replied, ‘I just want my real son James back’, I knew we had reached the point of no return.
“They gave me 45 minutes to go pack a bag and check in – and they kept me in for 30 days. They put me on suicide watch and checked on me every 15 minutes – morning, noon and night.
“I was in a room where there were no curtain strings, nothing I could use to hang myself. I was told I needed six months to recover, but within a fortnight of being discharged I was able to face Premier League crowds.
“Now I’m in a much better place than I was. Those 30 days in the Priory were probably the most important of my life.”
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