In the living rooms he is Lowieke At home. But in his hometown Sint-Genesius-Rode they know Mathias Vergels as the son of the baker and as part of The Six. A cabal of six ‘chains’ with a tattoo of a hexagon on their body. They were expressly thanked by his mother at Vergels’ first wedding. “Because without them I wouldn’t be here now,” says Vergels. “They guided me through it.”
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He is talking about the dark years, which started at the age of 13 and only cleared up before Vergels became the father of his son Emile at the age of 26. There were drugs, fights, convictions. The actor and singer was caught driving under the influence three times. In 2016 he was banned from driving for a year and temporarily disappeared At home. Vergels sought help, but when he was still an adolescent, the culprit was given a name: bipolarity. He went from high to low and back again, making several attempts to end it.
“I didn’t want to be here anymore,” says Vergels. “That’s happened a few times. And that was fueled by drink and drugs, from an early age. It amplified the peaks and valleys. But I did it to not feel anything anymore.”
Vergels was expelled three times at school and ended up at boarding school. Without home control, he lost the pedals. “I was a bastard who gave a shit about everything. I wasn’t sober half the time.” Things really went wrong from third year onwards. “I hung in places where you shouldn’t hang. Even squats. From the first joint I was hooked. Not about weed, but about the feeling. It was a way to escape. The step to the next thing didn’t take a week. I was 15 and used almost everything. Later also heroin.”
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His fight continued after his TV breakthrough. Vergels was immediately introduced to the downside of fame. “I remember one time I woke up in the hospital. That was the worst time. I was angry that it didn’t work out. And when I turned on the radio, a morning show completely destroyed me. Without them knowing what had happened.”
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It took time, but Vergels pulled through with character and with the help of those around him. He is not afraid of relapsing. His wild years had already passed before his first marriage, and today his fiancée and At home-colleague Lynn Van den Broeck got him up.
“I know that bipolarity is still in me. But I have much more to live for now. I have found a fantastic lady and have a wonderful child. In the past I had no support, but today I do. But I can say with certainty that it will always be a struggle. I’m an addict who doesn’t use.”
Vergels uses his music to help fellow sufferers and their loved ones. With the performance It runs in the best of families he also performs in psychiatric facilities. “Also in those where I myself have been cared for,” says Vergels. “It helps to talk about it more easily. And talking has lifted a weight off my shoulders. I threw away ten, twelve years of my life. I want to catch up tenfold in the coming years.”
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Anyone with questions about suicide can contact the Suicide Line on the free number 1813, and on the website www.zelfbloed1813.be. For a conversation about drug use, you can call De Druglijn anonymously on 078 15 10 20 or www.druglijn.be.
‘The house’, VRT 1, Monday, 8.45 pm