Wed, 10 Oct, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Dave Hughes opens up about hitting rock bottom: “I went downhill over a year”

Dave Hughes opens up about hitting rock bottom: “I went downhill over a year”

Although Dave Hughes is known for his hilarious antics and quick banter, the Aussie comedian and TV and radio host has candidly discussed the darkest battle he went through.

Before becoming co-host of 2DAY FM’s Drive radio show Hughesy & Kate with Kate Langbroek, the father-of-three came from humble beginnings and was plagued by crippling self-doubt.

Hughesy became unemployed and slipped into a lifestyle of regular alcohol and marijuana use after dropping out of his business university degree.

Speaking to news.com.au, Hughesy recalled: “I was feeling depressed as a young man.

“I was drinking too much, and when I’d drink I would get drunk. As a teenager and in my early 20s I was struggling with my own ego … that whole struggle to feel like you’re achieving things.

“Young men and young people can take life too seriously and I think drinking certainly didn’t help that … as well as smoking marijuana.”

The uncertainty of not knowing what career he wanted to pursue led to the now 47-year-old battling with his mental health.

“I was doing a business degree … I’d dropped out of an IT degree,” he said.

“I was trying to satisfy my own expectations of being a winner but not really having my heart in any of it.

“I remember I dropped out of uni after failing every subject in the second semester of the second year of my business degree, and I suppose I spent some time unemployed.

“That, combined with smoking a lot of marijuana and drinking heavily, led me to feeling really poorly … really feeling down more than anything … just a feeling of being really low.

“Drinking and marijuana was making me feel even more lost I suppose.”

Hughesy first discussed the struggle he faced while appearing as a guest on Q&A in 2015.

The entertainer admitted to believing he suffered from schizophrenia in his early 20s.

“When you hit something hard and you’re coming off it, I think that’s when you can really get freaked out,” he said of his terrifying dreams after quitting alcohol and marijuana.

“It was coming off and not trying to do that stuff where you’d freak out … your thoughts go all over the place.

“I remember thinking I wasn’t in control of my thoughts.”

During his struggle, he decided to open up to his mum, who was a practising nurse, as “there was very little talk between young men” about mental health.

“(In the 1990s) it was unheard of I suppose,” he said.

“There were no sporting heroes who put their hand up that they were struggling mentally.

“My mum was the best one for me to speak to (because) it wasn’t something you’d chat about with your friends.”

Although Hughesy didn’t self harm, he said he would put himself into situations where he didn’t care about the outcome.

“There were moments where you might drive erratically without care,” he said. 

“Not many times, but a few times where you don’t mind what happens.

“I think many young men go through times where they end up in cars … doing things that are really dangerous but don’t care of the result and often that can end tragically for any young man.

“Thankfully I survived.”

Now, Hughesy shares his story openly so that the stigma around seeking help for mental health will change.

“For anyone, it can be embarrassing to admit you’re struggling mentally,” Hughesy said.

“I went downhill over a year … So it was a year of struggling. But I came good pretty quickly after seeing a health professional with my mum. I stopped smoking marijuana and stopped drinking and haven’t had a drink since those days.

“Anyone who talks about it is inspiring for the whole … and certainly encourages people to be honest about their struggles,” he said.

“Many people go through the same things. To keep hold of your mental health is like keeping hold of your physical health. It should be maintained.

“Men … they don’t express their feelings as much as women I suppose. Men just don’t do it enough.”

If you are troubled by this article, experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au.