Scott Stapp on Mental Breakdown, Reality TV, Creed’s Future
Last November, Scott Stapp called his son’s school to report shocking news: “I have discovered that the core of ISIS is within my own family,” he said in a vocal message. “Please call me immediately.”
The call, which Stapp never explained, was one of the most disturbing incidents in a pattern of erratic and paranoid behavior for the former Creed frontman – so disturbing that his wife, Jaclyn, demanded that he leaves the home they shared in South Florida. Stapp spent about a month driving aimlessly across the country and posting messy videos on Facebook. In one, he fumed: “There are people who took advantage of me and stole my money, and they are trying to discredit me. In a phone call around the same time, he went on to suggest that his life was in danger. Deeply concerned, Jaclyn called 911. “He thinks he’s CIA,” she told the operator. “And he’s supposed to assassinate Obama.”
In the early 2000s, Creed’s Christian message and Stapp’s shirtless messiah charisma helped the band sell 50 million albums. But the leader’s drug and alcohol abuse led to their eventual breakup. Stapp, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was involuntarily placed in a mental institution late last year. After treatment, including medication to control his condition, Stapp was released, and soon after, he and Jaclyn were tentatively back together.
Stapp remained largely silent about his recovery until this month, when VH1 began airing the reality series’ sixth season. couple therapywhich features him with Jaclyn sharing a home with model Janice Dickinson, mob wives‘Angela “Big Ang” Raiola RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Carmen Carrera, New Jersey rapper Joe Budden and their respective partners.
For Stapp, the show is a chance to prove to the world that his depression — which he attributes to an interaction between his antidepressants and an unprescribed drug — is behind him. We spoke with Stapp about his mental health, his decision to appear on a reality show, and Creed’s status.
What was your first reaction when you were asked to appear on Couples therapy?
It was, “I appreciate you contacting me, but I’m not interested.” They had approached us probably two or three times over the years, and we just didn’t think it was appropriate at the time. But then I discussed it with my wife. Considering everything that’s happened in our lives over the past year, we thought, “Well, okay. I know we didn’t want to do this initially, but let’s listen to them and ask some questions. »
How did they convince you?
We were really concerned that it was genuine therapy. We were like, “Is this real or just another reality show that’s scripted?” We had no experience in this area, so everything was very new. And after several conversations, they really explained it and showed us that it was genuine and that Dr. Jenn was really passionate and serious about what she was doing. We finally thought that since my breakdown was so public, we should continue this journey publicly.
It was very difficult to adjust to being filmed 24 hours a day.
It was very awkward at first. Dr. Jenn told us that the 24-hour microphones and cameras were part of the therapy process because it put us in a situation where we couldn’t keep secrets. We couldn’t have secret conversations. Everything was exposed. Nothing could be hidden from nursing staff or therapists. None of our conversations, among other people on the show, or even conversations that you would think were private in the bathroom or at night in bed, were not private. They were subjected to the examination of doctors and analysis in the therapeutic process.
“We finally thought that since my breakdown was so public, we should continue this journey publicly.”
I want to talk about the breakdown. When did you first experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
If I really look back on my life, it started in 1998. And then over the years it kept getting worse, and it accelerated with my self-medication.
So it started showing up just as Creed was becoming this gigantic band?
Yeah. At the time, I just wanted to feel normal. For a while, self-medication works. But, as always, it always ends in a crash.
From the outside, you looked like another self-destructing rock star.
It is difficult to understand, in my opinion, a disease that you cannot physically see. There is no casting. There is no wheelchair, but it is debilitating. It can destroy your life because it’s hard to understand. I have spent a lot of time in dark depressions, and this may be misunderstood by your friends and those around you. I certainly experienced the consequences that most people with mental illness experience. You lose relationships, careers. Unfortunately, many lose their lives.
How did things get to the point where you were approaching complete collapse?
Well, in 2010 I started my journey to recovery from alcohol and drugs. I was really fighting every day to stay sober. I sort of developed a cycle where I would relapse once or twice a year. It was constant from 2010 until my breakdown. Basically, I went to get prescribed some medicine because I felt a strong depression coming on. Went for a prescription drug which is not a drug a recovering person is supposed to take. He had a horrible interaction with my antidepressant, and I lost my mind. I became extremely paranoid and delusional. This is what they call in psychiatric terms a “manic psychosis”.
Basically, it was just a continuation of a cycle that I kind of got from trying to overcome, at the time, an undiagnosed mental illness. I was always told that I was depressed up to this point. Then alcoholism and drug addiction, these two worlds collided. I was trying to self-medicate and eventually it got out of hand, and I went into a partially drug-induced manic psychosis.
When did you get in your car and start driving across the country?
This was after my wife, Jaclyn, realized something was wrong. She has good instincts and she eventually found out that I was on a prescription drug that I wasn’t supposed to take as a recovering person. She said, “I don’t want you home until you stop doing this.” That’s when I went to the drive. My delusions were really bad, and they were getting stronger and stronger. There was paranoia, delusions and even mild hallucinations. My wife did everything in her power to try to help me.
“I was trying to self-medicate and eventually it got out of control, and I went into a partially drug-induced manic psychosis.”
Your comments on the Obama assassination have attracted a lot of attention. Can you figure out why this came to your mind?
It’s crazy. I have no idea. When you are in this mental state, you are delusional. You are hallucinating. You’re putting together pieces of reality that make absolutely no sense. This whole script was twisted because part of me thought, in my delusional state, that I was trying to save Obama, that he was in trouble. And so it all got twisted and convoluted. It’s really impossible to give a reasonable explanation for someone who is in a manic-psychotic state and has delusions and hallucinations. There’s no way to make sense of it because it doesn’t make any sense at all.
People were curious about your politics after that. Are you a President Obama supporter? Where do you stand politically?
I love President Obama. And I love this country. I am definitely a supporter of our country and our government.
Are you more liberal or conservative in your politics?
I am a registered independent.
Would you say that you are in the center…
Yeah, I’m in the middle. On some issues, I lean towards the liberal side. On some issues, I lean conservative. It’s very specific. In some ways I’m very “government interventionist”, and in other ways I’m very “government interventionist”. That’s why I registered as a freelancer when I was 18. I couldn’t choose a side. I go back and forth.
You were placed in psychiatric detention at the end of last year. What happened from there to get you out of the state of mental psychosis?
It certainly helped to stop this drug, but they also had to give me [another] drugs to restore the chemical balance in my brain. The chemical balance in my brain was completely out of whack. So after I received treatment under the MusiCares program through the Grammy association, they guided me to a dual diagnosis center. That’s when my healing began. That’s when we really started getting answers about what happened, why it happened, and what we needed to do to move forward.
How are you at the moment?
I definitely take steps every day to make sure I stay healthy, stay in the right frame of mind, and stay sober. I am actively in a 12 step program. I play sports and train every day. I eat healthily. And I’m absolutely taking it one day at a time, man.
Some people will criticize your choice to appear on a reality show so soon after you broke down.
In the end, we can’t care about making everyone happy and what everyone thinks. We had to do what we felt was right for our family. And we really felt, given the situation and how public my depression was, that it made sense for us to start a healing journey on the show.
Do you think Creed will tour or record again?
I hope so. I recently met these guys, totally unplanned. Our families met at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando a few months ago. I took my son and my wife to the swimming pool. I was like 8:30 at night, and I said, “Baby, it’s Mark [Tremonti, Creed guitarist] over there.” I look and it’s Tremonti with his wife and children, and [Creed drummer] Scott Phillips with his wife and children. We ended up hanging out by the pool for about three hours, just talking and catching up with our families together.
Just then, relationships began to take on a new organic nature. We have been in communication ever since. I know Mark and the guys have a lot to do, as do I. I don’t want to make the same mistake I made in Billboard and give the wrong impression, but I really hope that when the time is right, and when our schedules make sense together, given the commitment that we already have, I really hope that we get back in the studio and do a another disk. Our 20th anniversary is approaching in 2017. But we will see. We’ll see how it works.
Since we spoke with Stapp, he has announced a solo tour that will kick off on December 12 in South Africa and arrive in America in January.