How Richard Hammond's Near-Death Experience Affected His Mental Health
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The Grand Tour is finally here and it's so good to have Clarkson, Hammond and May back on our screens. After what seems like an eternity, the trio are back together and The Grand Tour is shaping up to be everything we hoped for and more.
It's got of a budget of a rumoured £4 million per episode, so you can imagine the sort of shit they will be getting up to: faster cars, bigger challenges and amazing locations.
One thing money, even £4m, can't buy is the chemistry between the three. The camaraderie is exactly what led to May and Hammond jumping ship when Clarkson was fired from the BBC, because, let's face it, who could have replaced him? It wouldn't have been the same. And the Beeb's loss is our gain because the new show is sick.
Watching Hammond now, taking the piss out of Clarkson and May, it's hard to imagine just how close he was to death at one point. In 2006, while filming for Top Gear, Hammond suffered a serious head injury, when a jet-powered car spun out of control at 288 miles per hour. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he spent two weeks in a coma on a neurological unit.
It wasn't just the physical injuries that took their toll, though. Richard bravely opened up after the crash to talk about how the accident left him prone to mental health issues. He told the Radio Times that the crash left him prone to depression and paranoia and found him blaming himself.
He said: "It was a lot to deal with. I had a pretty tricky few years. The knock-on effects of the injury meant I was susceptible to depression, obsession, compulsion and paranoia, although I wasn't aware of that at the time. It gave me an unnatural platform from which to observe my own mental state, which was exhausting."
He also struggled to come to terms with the fact that he could have left his two daughters to grow up without a dad. "I massively needed to know if the crash was my fault, because I'd risked the girls growing up without their dad. The telemetry showed I'd done everything right and it was an accident. But the girls still remember it very clearly."
It was later concluded that the most likely cause of the crash was a nail on the track, which safety experts failed to spot when doing checks, piercing the side of the tyre.
At TheLADbible, we're always working to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues with our U OK M8? series. Hammond speaking out like this is therefore a massive step in the right direction.
It's good to have you back, lads.
'U OK M8?' is an initiative from TheLADbible in partnership with a range of mental health charities which it has featured a series of films and stories to raise awareness of mental health.
Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do.
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Featured image credit: PA