Doctors didn’t expect Adam Lanceley to survive after a horrific car crash left him in a coma. But despite devastating injuries, depression, bullying and OCD, he now writes and records music to inspire others – and has even run the London Marathon
There have been many times when I’ve felt like giving up. After my accident, even the doctors had pretty much given up on me – they said my chances of survival were very slim.
To get to where I am today has taken so much perseverance. There have been so many setbacks along the way, and there are still times when I wonder why all this happened to me.
Music has helped me so much. Being able to hear my songs on the radio, and writing lyrics about my thoughts and experiences, has given me a chance to help others see that it’s always worth fighting against the obstacles in your way.
I was 10 when I was in a serious car crash. I suffered massive head injuries, and although the doctors did their best for me, they said my chances of survival were low. My accident was life-changing. I suffered a severe brain injury, a smashed pelvis, and two broken legs. I was with my family in France when a jeep came out of nowhere and crashed into the side of our car. I was in a coma for three weeks, with little hope that I would survive. I don’t really remember much, apart from later being afraid about going back to school.
It took a long time to begin to recover, and schooldays could be hard.
I was lucky that I didn’t get bullied more than I did; I spoke very slowly, I was vulnerable, and I couldn’t walk properly for a long time. Even today, I walk with a very pronounced limp.
The bullying really hurt. I found the non-physical stuff more damaging and difficult to take. Being called, “spastic” or “a cripple” was much harder for me to swallow – the whole, “sticks and stones” argument really didn’t hold up for me.
My injuries were so severe that I was one of only 150 children in the UK to receive a “McDonald’s Child of Achievement Award”, which was presented to me by Princess Diana. Next to my name, it says: “For re-learning life skills.” It’s still on the wall at my parents’ house.
Although people could tell from the way I walked that I was a bit different, one thing they could not see was how it had affected my mind. When I was a teenager, I began to struggle with depression really badly, and it’s something that I still struggle with today. I also have an energy-sapping condition, that doctors haven’t been able to diagnose, which makes things difficult.
Fortunately, I have got through it. There were many times when it felt like it would never end. I’m grateful I have good friends and family around me to make it easier, and interests that kept me striving to get somewhere. But at the same time, I know how much easier my life would have been without bullying – as if learning to walk and talk again weren’t difficult enough. I once heard somebody say that there are no winners when it comes to bullying – the one doing it will one day feel remorse, and the one being bullied carries the scars.
As my body started to recover, I found one of the best ways to get all the emotions out of my system was through music. At first I tried acting, and was offered a place at the BRIT performing arts school! Call it youthful stupidity, but I turned it down.
When I realised my mistake, I worked as hard as I could and was awarded a place at the prestigious East 15 Acting School. But I found it really wasn’t for me – pretending to be someone else felt like running away, and I felt restricted by not being able to express my own feelings.
Music proved to be one of my true releases, and helped me deal with my obsessive compulsive disorder. I felt a need to make everything rhyme, so writing music was a huge help. At 16, I went to Richmond College and met a very talented sound engineer, who inspired me to record music.
I also realised that I had a second passion, running, which really helped me deal with life. I run roughly four miles a day now, and spend that time thinking about the music I want to create – when I’ve finished a run, I feel I’ve really achieved my challenge. Tiredness after a run has really helped me deal with the depression issues I have experienced, too.
I must say that running the London Marathon was really exhausting, but thoroughly satisfying and rewarding at the same time, raising money for the Brain and Spine Foundation – even though I had to stop running because of the pain in my feet from a pressure sore! People in the crowd kept telling me to get some treatment as I was hobbling along, but I kept replying: “I’ll get it at the end of the marathon!”
I have now recorded six albums and a music video, taking inspiration from an eclectic range of artists – including the Beach Boys, REM, Roy Orbison, and the Rolling Stones. When it comes to lyrical inspiration, I would say my mantra is: “As long as it means something to you, then write it!”
It was the Beach Boys who made me fall in love with music. The first time I heard them, I just thought their sound was so fresh. I used to enjoy listening to stories about the West Coast music scene from a family friend who used to drum for Sonny and Cher. In fact, he was on their hit “I Got You Babe”! I always found the Beach Boys’ melodies and harmonisation truly uplifting. If my music can have a similar effect on other people, it would be great.
Now, at the age of 36, I feel I have learnt so much about life and how to deal with almost anything it may throw at me. I feel proud of what I have achieved, and want to continue writing, singing, and running – and hopefully inspiring others to never give up on their dreams. If my music can inspire others, then I will be happy, and feel I have helped people to enjoy their lives, and appreciate the power of true determination.
Adam’s new album ‘Epitaph to Innocence’ will be released in July, and his new single “A Lover Like You”, is out this summer. Adam’s music is available on iTunes.
Adam has had a lot to deal with from a young age, and while most of us won’t have faced the physical challenges Adam has, the pain of bullying and struggle with depression will strike a chord with a lot of us. Despite being in such a difficult position, Adam never gave up hope, and persevering allowed him to succeed in ways others thought impossible. He also understood the importance of self expression – using his music to connect with his own feelings, and with others. His story reminds us we all have a need and a right to be heard.