Ben Gillies Reveals 'Acute Psychotic Break' During Silverchair 'Diorama' Sessions

19 September 2023 | 8:52 am | Mary Varvaris

"I just started feeling like I was losing grip a little bit."

Ben Gillies & Chris Joannou on 'Australian Story'

Ben Gillies & Chris Joannou on 'Australian Story' (Credit: Jack Fisher)

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Last night (18 September), A Silver Lining, the highly anticipated Australian Story starring Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou of Silverchair fame, aired and lent brand-new insight into the two bandmates’ experiences within the band.

One of the episode's revelations came from Gillies explaining the “acute psychotic break” he experienced during the band’s Diorama sessions.

While the drummer felt a “chink in my armour” from Daniel Johns taking more creative control during the era, he tried to put those feelings behind him, saying that “Daniel is amazing at what he does.”

But the mental health impact of the Diorama sessions led Gillies to embrace extra marijuana usage, leading to a scary experience he opened up about on Australian Story.

“I’d never experienced that before,” he said about his marijuana use, which grew to multiple times a day. “I just started feeling like I was losing grip a little bit. Not on reality, but I couldn’t control it.”

After being offered his first ecstasy tablet, Gillies felt he had been “pushed over the edge”. “I had what I know now was an acute psychotic break. It was really, really scary. I thought I was going crazy.”

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Gillies “didn’t tell a soul” about the acute psychotic break as he was “scared that admitting it was admitting that something was wrong and that I was crazy.”

He went on to stop using marijuana but admitted that following the psychotic break, he experienced new anxiety levels. Gillies still manages his anxiety today.

He explained, “The reason I’m doing it here and in the book is because what I’ve found is that being really open about it is liberating, but it also helps others.”

Also during their Australian Story episode, Joannou discussed health issues, including cancer and a heart attack, following Silverchair’s disbandment. Gillies also reflected on the group’s unhealthy drinking culture and discussed Johns’ anorexia.

The pair appeared on Australian Story – this was only part one; part two is airing on Monday, 25 September, at 8 pm on ABC TV and iView – to promote their new tell-all memoir, Love & Pain.

The book will be released via Hatchette Australia on Wednesday, 27 September.

It’s noted that although Love & Pain will explore the rock’n’roll chaos that went on in Silverchair, the book will also tap into “all the love and pain that came with being in the band”, such as “the cost of fame and intense pressure on two teenagers who had no way of preparing for it”, “the navigation of their friendships with each other and their relationships with their friends and family members” and “the mistakes they made and the successes they cherished”.

You can watch part one of A Silver Lining via ABC iView.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or other mental-related illness, we implore you to get in contact with beyondblue or Lifeline:

Beyondblue: 1300 224 636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call-Back Service: 1300 659 467

Beyondblue and Lifeline both also offer online chat/counsel. Check their respective websites for operational hours and details.