The Times Should Hang Its Head For Ribbing James Wade’s Depression-Related Weight Gain

A year ago James Wade was on suicide watch in The Priory, after battling back to his best form, the last thing he deserves is to have fun poked at his expanding weight gain...
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A year ago James Wade was on suicide watch in The Priory, after battling back to his best form, the last thing he deserves is to have fun poked at his expanding weight gain...

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On the train home to Kent yesterday I found a copy of The Times on the seat next to me. Flipping to the back page, I read Arsene Wenger's latest display of grace in defeat before my eye caught a picture of Adrian Lewis, with a trail explaining the darts was on page 60-61, so I turned to it.

I was going to read the report, but saw that Giles Smith had written his sport on TV column about the darts, accompanied with a picture of beaten semi-finalist James Wade. The picture was unflattering to say the least, his face bent forward to emphasise his several chins. The column though, was more than unflattering, it was bullying. Cheap shots from a critic who should know better.

The opening salvos were dedicated to, basically, how fat Adrian Lewis and James Wade were. “Let’s be clear: this was the most substantial World Championship in years.” He wrote. “Adrian Lewis, the 2011 champion, came back a far more substantial player. So did James “The Machine” Wade — quite a bit more substantial.”

What Smith should have known is that Wade’s rapid weight gain was kick-started by a course of anti-depressants he was prescribed when he was admitted to the priory last year and diagnosed as being bipolar and suffering from a nervous breakdown. He was so depressed that he said, “I wish I could have a heart attack and die.”

Depression is a serious business. It kills people. It ruins families. And often it makes you put on weight. Giles Smith and everyone on The Times Sport Desk should hang their heads in shame

If Smith didn't know this, then surely a sub, or indeed the sports editor, should have their finger on the pulse sufficiently to suggest another angle. It's no big secret. As Wade has returned to form over the last few months it has been mentioned at every tournament. Not only that, but in his second round match, the commentators spelt it out. James Wade is fat because of the anti-depressants.

I'm fat. Not gorgon fat, not even darts fat, but I've got an impressive derby. I joke with people that my weight gain was sparked by getting married when the reality is that it began when I was prescribed a course of anti-depressants following a fair-to-middlin nervous breakdown three years ago. Mine was bought on by several factors, none of which I need to explain here. James Wade's was bought on by pressure. Anyone who derides darts as a bunch of fat blokes chucking arrows is an idiot. It is a game that exists in the mind and brings with it as much pressure as other individual and mentally draining sports such as golf. You are on that stage, alone, often heckled mid-shot and expected to perform.

James Wade is the greatest left-hander in the history of darts and would sit in most people's top ten players ever in terms of natural talent. At times in the past, he has been accused of choking, of not having the minerals. In such a macho culture as darts it must've been very hard for him to admit his mental problems, let alone face up to them, receive treatment and make a comeback.

So far him to have fun poked at him by some columnist who desperately wants to be Martin Kelner but doesn't have the intelligence, sense of humour or knowledge to do it, is hideous.

No-one who has had the balls to face up to mental illness should have to face ribbing from some chinless wonder because they have gained a few pounds. Imagine if you're James Wade and you read it? You've spent a year trying to quieten that horrific internal dialogue that tells you that you are a worthless piece of scum, that everyone around you would be better off if you weren't there. Not only have you quietened it to a point - for it will always be there lurking  - but you have battled back to reach the semi-finals of the biggest competition in your field and narrowly lost a thriller to the reigning world champion. You should be pleased. You should be proud of yourself. Then you read a couple of hundred words that ignores your talent and mental courage to get cheap laughs.

Depression is a serious business. It kills people. It ruins families. And often it makes you put on weight. Giles Smith and everyone on The Times Sport Desk should hang their heads in shame and pray that James Wade didn't read it. Because, from experience, I'd hate to think what chain of events that could set off.

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