Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Before you judge


Before her death at age 27, British singer Amy Winehouse was often the target of tasteless jokes on late night talk shows.

What hasn't surfaced in too many articles is the fact that she suffered from bipolar disorder, and didn't like the side effects of her meds. So she refused to take them. So she self-medicated, which is probably what led to her death.

This may seem open-and-shut to you. But consider. I work with people who have tried medication after medication, only to have all of them fail. I have met people who have gained 50-100 pounds as a "side effect" of their medication, putting them at risk for diabetes, heart conditions, etc. - not to mention the effect on their self-esteem. It's not so easy to just pop a pill. Even when you find one that works, it won't fix everything.

My heart goes out to Winehouse and her family because, frankly, I put my own family through hell when going through severe depression. I self-medicated with alcohol, and but for their support and a medication that worked (thank God) without serious side effects, I would likely not be here today.

I understand that pain, that depression that seizes you and makes you unable to do the simplest things, like get out of bed - or even want to wake up, ever again.

Mental health care sucks in this country and even in others, mental illness is drastically misunderstood. I am sick and fucking tired of comments people make when a tragedy of this sort happens, connecting mental illness with creative talent.

It doesn't spur the talent, friends. Those of us who are creative will tell you it's hell on Earth trying to create anything when we're down.

Drinking, for me, took the edge off. I was a little more social, a little less unhappy, felt a little less alone. I would always crash - always end up feeling worse the next day.

It has been almost 14 years (I quit drinking, funny enough, right after I turned 21), but I still have dreams every month or two that I screw up and have a rum and coke or whatever, and have to start all over again. That leaves me to wake up in a cold sweat, kissing my toes that it's not real.

So before you judge her - or others who have substance abuse issues - please consider. There may be a very sad reason behind it. And more importantly, they may be forever grateful if you are there when and if they have the strength to move forward.

I know I am.

15 comments:

ileana said...

What you say makes perfect sense. Who knows what was really going on inside her head? It's unfair judge her based on stories told by the media and the opinion of folks that really didn't know her situation, but that's what a lot of people do...talk mierda.

Thanks for the enlightening post, chica. Good message here.

Jeannie said...

It's my theory that anyone who abuses drugs/alcohol of any kind are likely self-medicating. And just because a drug is prescribed, it doesn't make it necessarily safe or effective.

Poor Amy may have agreed to try the meds at last - the family seems to insist she was doing really well - but we all know (now) that some anti-depressants can increase suicidal thoughts. Whatever happened - she was more "successful" in her short life than most of us could ever hope to be. It obviously didn't make her happier as the notion is irrelevant anyway - but she is remembered by a great many people and her music will not be forgotten. Her family can take comfort in knowing that at least, and be proud.

Lynn said...

This is a great post and very eye opening - I did not know that she had bipolar disorder.

LL Cool Joe said...

I hope my post didn't offend you in any way? I wasn't having a go at Amy Winehouse at all, I was talking about what fueled her creativity and the pressure she must have felt to keep on creating music.

Granny Annie said...

Michelle, I love you and am so proud of your ability to overcome. There but by the grace of God go every one of us. You said this so very well and so heart wrenchingly touching. Today I will look at the life and death of Amy Winehouse in a more loving way. While I know you don't strive to impress with your life story, you did anyway. Thanks for sharing.

lgsquirrel said...

I love her music but it was clear that she was not happy and sadly, she was seeking relief in the wrong places. One can only hope she is at peace now and pray for her loved ones that they too will have closure.

Mike_D said...

Another heart-felt post!! That had a lot of meaning and realness to it...

Can you kiss your toes?

Mama Zen said...

Such a great post. People don't realize that meds are not a quick, easy fix. There is a ton of trial and error, the side effects are awful, and the "cure" is generally incomplete.

Claire said...

Such a great post. I would never judge - we each have our own journey, and parts of it will always be hard. Loved to read your honest take on this. You're a gem.

Cxx

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks everyone!

Riot Kitty said...

Oh, and Joey, of course you did not offend! You have never offended me :)

Cake Betch said...

I LOVED Amy Winehouse. Her Back to Black album practically burned the screen of my ipod. I still to this day never skip her songs when they come on. She was amazing, and I was really hoping that she would get her shit together and not die too soon.
As someone who was/is extremely close to a hardcore addict my heart breaks for her family and friends. The call is one you hope you never have to get. Let's hope that something good comes out of this.

Anil P said...

Never easy to be in another's shoes, and it helps if we're not judgemental of another if we're not suffering what they do.

Senorita said...

Excellent post ! I didn't know that she was bipolar. I feel for anyone suffering through a mental illness.

When I am depressed getting anything accomplished takes all day !

Riot Kitty said...

CB: I love that album, too.
Anil: Exactly.
S: Me too.