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22nd Nov 2023

Roman Kemp says anti-depressants killed his sex drive

Joseph Loftus

‘There’s side effects, let’s talk about them’

British radio host and television personality, Roman Kemp, has confessed that anti-depressants ruined his sex drive.

Appearing on the JOE Unfiltered Podcast to discuss his latest BBC documentary, Kemp spoke about how through his teenage years he felt that there was something wrong with him, despite not knowing just what it was.

Kemp explained that his father, Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet, came from a working class north London family who seldom spoke about their emotions or their feelings, let alone their mental health, and so Roman was left feeling quite alone in his own head.

He added that he would often look at his sister and wonder why she was so happy, knowing that he could never feel the same way.

Speaking of how he felt at that time, Roman said: “The only way I can describe it is that when you wake up, there was always a dark cloud. Even if it was a lovely sunny day, it was always raining over you. Why should I be happy? I was one of those people. And it wasn’t just teenage angst. It was different to that.”

Soon after, Roman’s mum decided to take him to the doctor where he was prescribed anti-depressants. Speaking of them, he said: “I was prescribed anti-depressants and I’ve never not taken them since. I’ve had several different types because sometimes they don’t work and sometimes you need to switch.

“You know, I get a lot of stick sometimes for talking about anti-depressants because they are so divisive because people are like ‘you’re telling kids to take drugs’. Listen, what you do with your child, or what you do with your own body is your own decision.

“I’m telling you, there is a drug that is available to me, on the market, that says it makes me feel better. And I don’t care if it’s sugar, I’m taking it. And it makes me feel good.”

While the anti-depressants did make Kemp feel much better, he confessed that there were some side effects, saying: “There’s side effects. Let’s talk about them. I’ve had anti-depressants in the past where it’s killed your sex drive entirely.

“Like all of a sudden you’re there with your partner and you’re like ‘I’m so sorry but I don’t feel like having sex because I don’t realise what’s going on’. And then you realise it’s the tablets and you change them. It’s about finding what works for you.”

Kemp then explained that he tried numerous different anti-depressants before finally finding the right one for him, while stressing that this does not mean it is the right drug for everybody.

Later in the interview, Kemp began speaking very openly about his best friend Joe Lyons who tragically took his own life back in 2020.

Kemp explained: “We were like brothers. […] He was always so happy. Always. But like fascinatingly happy. I remember the last time my other best mate Matt dropped us off from football, Joe scored a hat trick, and Joe got out the car to go home and this was the last time Matt saw him, and Matt turned to me and said ‘he’s one in a million isn’t he? A person that happy with life and so easy going’.

“And so it was that person that made me so angry when he died because I felt like saying ‘you fraud’. I did. I felt like saying ‘you fake f*cker, you had all this going on, you had something going on, and yet the one you shown me was just the one you wanted to show me. And I couldn’t get that hate out. And I really found it difficult to get that out.'”

Kemp then explains that he still feels this way at times, saying: “When I die, and I see him, I’m hitting him. Boy is there gonna be a scrap. Like ‘you prick’.

“Anyone that’s dealt with suicide, you know what I’m saying. Because when you go through suicidal grief, it’s like you’re told ‘it’s what they wanted, it was their decision, it’s unfair to say it’s selfish of them’. F*ck that. He can go f*ck himself and I’ll tell him to his face. What you did man, passed all of that sh*t onto your family and myself.”

Kemp then spoke of how he eventually went to therapy following Joe’s suicide where his therapist told him to “look at this empty seat”.

He said: “She says, ‘Joe’s sat there and I want you to have a conversation with him. And after you’ve said all you want to say, I want you to go and sit in Joe’s seat and talk back to yourself as if you’re him’.

“But it was amazing. Because I knew what he would say. And I felt like I had it. And it really freed me. I just wanted to hear him say ‘I can stop’ and I wanted to hear him say ‘I’m sorry’. And I did.”

Kemp then concluded his interview saying that in his eyes, Members of Parliament really don’t care much for mental health.

He spoke of going to speak with MPs with a group of children who had attempted suicide in their lives, saying: “We went into this room. A tiny little room. And these kids in there are kids who’ve attempted suicide. And they’re between the ages of maybe ten and fifteen with their guardians.

“And they’re telling these MPs about their pressures in their lives and why we need as a government to be in there as early as possible and not just look at intervention, it has to be prevention.

“And I swear to God, it was like something out of the office. It was like, all they cared about was like ‘oh yes, thank you for the suicide chat, we’ve put out lovely sandwiches, please, take them. Should we take a picture? Hold up the sign. Don’t kill yourself’.”

Kemp added: “And that’s honestly what it was like. Like, what’s going on?! These kids are like putting their stories to you, just listen. Stop thinking about whether someone’s taking a picture of you. Just listen for a second.”

Roman Kemp’s documentary The Fight For Young Lives is available on BBC now.