PRESSURE to perform is nothing new to country music star Adam Brand, but that pressure to reach stardom in the US, along with his marriage break-up, led to the toughest gig of his life - being himself.
In 2009, a decade after winning his first Golden Guitars, he was set to take on the international country scene, with Sony Nashville ready to take his music to world.
After being offered a record deal in America, Adam met Jade Hatcher, his partner on Dancing with the Stars, who would become his wife. But the pressure of having to be everywhere, and everything for everybody, led to difficult times, and throughout his marriage break-up and career collapse, his mental health suffered.
“We’re all going through stuff, whether it’s relationship troubles, financial troubles, health troubles - we all go through tough times,” he said.
“The problem is we’re under so much pressure to pretend we’re not, to be successful, and it’s live up to other people’s expectations.
“So many people put on a face that says ‘everything’s ok’, like they’ve got everything under control, and it’s as if, when you talk about it, you’re admitting failure or weakness.”
Perceptions of him as a fun-loving party boy added to his troubles.
“I’m perceived as being successful and as the life of the party because my job is to stand on stage and spread joy, but sometimes, inside, you’re tied up in knots,” Adam said.
Music was a good outlet for Adam, but he soon lost confidence.
“Music steadied me, because when everything else was failing I could go out, stand in front of some people, sing songs and feel like everything could be ok.
“I felt like a big failure, like there was nowhere to go, but I had a role to play - my career is going out and entertaining people,” he said.
“You mask it as best you can and if you’re a half decent performer most people won’t notice.”
Finding small things to appreciate led him out of the darkness.
“I chose to look for the good things around me rather than just thinking it’s all black and no good,” he said.
“I got to the point where I had to appreciate what I did have rather than think I was a huge failure for things I didn’t have and things that I’d lost.”
Adam now encourages people to talk about their mental health.
“Coming through the other side ... I’ve realised talking about it actually can help.
“We think that no one else understands, but most people do, because we’re all under that pressure.”
He’s now more content with his “lot”, thanks to his new love of renovating.
“I started renovating a little rundown shack that needed some love,” Adam said.
“It needed my attention and focus and when you start focusing on something positive and good, you stop focusing on the stuff you think you’re no good at.
“For me, getting better it was about getting to a place in life where I felt I had a purpose and I got my confidence back.
“The more positive things that you do and be involved in, the less you’re focusing on the things which drag you down - there’s no magic fix, just find things in this world that are good.
“We can get up every day and find lots of things to have a whinge about but you can also get up and find things to be positive about.”
Adam’s still creating music and performing, on top of his next project - restoring a rusty old Ford truck - and supporting other musicians in their careers.
“I kind of feel I’m where I’m supposed to be, not chasing the big career and opportunities in the states.
“I spent many years chasing that success and thinking that’s where I wanted to be, because that’s the natural progression - get a record deal, have success and get the success over there.
“But you can still feel successful and completely satisfied in life without all of that.”
Adam’s tips for staying mentally fit
∎ Look for the good things in life – “Find some things to appreciate and realise there are people who appreciate you.”
∎ Share your story – “As much as you want to be a lone ranger and go through the storm on your own, and you might be scared to show that side of you, there are a lot of people who get it - everybody’s going through something.”