John Grant, Paxil and the Queen of Denmark

I love music, I play guitar and I sometimes sing and it’s always a joy for me to discover new artists. John Grant is one of my new discoveries. This American singer songwriter packs an emotional punch, combined with visceral vocals and gritty, honest and ironic, cleverly executed lyrics. John Grant suffers from depression and has been on Seroxat (Paxil) since 1994. If ever there was a song which could describe the sheer personal annihilation of what it feels like to be depressed and on an anti-depressant like Seroxat, his beautiful “Queen of Denmark” track is possibly the definitive one.

Check it out here:

After high school, Grant studied German in Heidelberg, where he suffered such severe panic attacks that he stopped attending classes or even buying groceries. His mental list of situations to avoid steadily expanded until there was virtually nothing left. “Your circle of movement gets smaller and smaller and that’s how agoraphobia develops,” he says with a shudder. “I was living in total fear of everything.”

In 1994 he returned to Colorado to be with his terminally ill mother, and was prescribed the antidepressant Paxil. He’s still taking it and would like to stop

Grant left high school and moved to Germany where he would live for six years studying German and Russian, but an escape from his home soil would not alleviate the issues he was having. “In Germany my depression really started to blossom with anxiety and horrible panic disorder. I had a hard time sitting in a classroom without freaking out. My depression and anxiety were worsening by the day and getting more pronounced and there was no way that I was going to be able to stand up in front of people and interpret. I couldn’t concentrate on the studies because I was so terrified to be around people – I don’t think I’ve ever really expressed it like that before, I always talk in interviews about how I went back to the States because my mother got sick with cancer – and to some extent it’s true – but part of it is also because I was tired of being terrified and tired of being around the stress of people who were doing well at their studies and I was struggling with mental issues.”

His time in Germany did hold one important milestone however; he sang in public for the first time.

“I was encouraged. I wasn’t laughed at.  I was super drunk but that was the only way for me to do it. I felt super uncomfortable but there was also a rush, people really took me seriously when I was singing – more than they did in any other context, it seemed like.”

Grant returned home to the States where his Mother’s lung cancer diagnosis was worse than first thought. “She died within the year,” he says. “That’s when I was given this anti-depressant for the first time called ‘Paxil’ which I’m still taking twenty years later and that changed everything for me back then. I became social and I immediately went into power drinking. My mum had died and I just went into boozing, I was finally coming out, I was twenty-five or twenty-six and coming out for the first time.”


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