The Internet exploded on Saturday with the passing of Amy Winehouse. There were jokes, there were throwaway condolences, and there were honest introspective tweets/blogs.
The last few years had not been kind to Amy, with sour publicity and videos of her being so far gone that she couldn’t even remember the words to her own song. I remember posting a link to a video of her completely dazed on stage as the audience came together to help her sing her song. I sadly made the joke that it was an extremely talented audience. A part of me feels bad about it, but that is not the reason for this post.
A lot of people have posted genuine concern over the last 48 hours about people suffering from addiction and begging whoever is affected to search for help. With addiction being as public as it can be nowadays there are plenty of places available to help and it is not difficult to find.
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. In reference to humans, is can be used to broadly encompass any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person inflicted. Addiction, as clinically creative as this sounds, is a disease.
The American Society of Addition Medicine has defined addiction as follows: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” There are so many different types of addiction through so many avenues. You could be addicted to the internet, gambling, shopping, exercise/dieting, and various substances.
When I first heard Amy Winehouse I was watching TV. An ad for an upcoming show on AMC (Mad Man) used “You Know I’m No Good” as its tag to draw you in. A few mornings later I woke and happened to turn MTV on, shocked that they even still had music videos. There was a woman tatted up, sitting in a bathtub with a humongous bulb of black hair piled on top of her noggin. I immediately scratched her name down and decided to look into this artist. I was shocked that she didn’t look anything like what I assumed she would with her voice being what it was.
As I listened to Back to Black, I found myself addicted to the exquisite pleasure/pain from an intonation that wrapped my brain in both velvet and sandpaper. The words, the delivery, the emotion seemed to call to me at a time in my life where I was slowly working my way out of my own addiction.
My relationship with Amy was completely selfish. This woman that I had never met was helping to facilitate my own version of rehab. Her persistence in refusing to allow someone else to fix her was very much the push that I needed to fix myself.
As the years progressed and the only things I heard of Ms. Winehouse were of the countless issues she had, it hit me that she wasn’t at the point of surviving her addiction. She wasn’t climbing out of her sadness. I know that the press has a tendency to go for the jugular and point out when someone has done something horrible. They have a tendency of being the shitty parent that points out your faults publicly and demands that people give their own opinion without knowing the whole story.
It isn’t surprising to me that her resolve was continuously tested and didn’t make the grade. I have seen enablers at various events offering someone something that they shouldn’t, or offering a nip of something to an already wasted person. It makes me wonder if there was someone around Amy that genuinely cared for her.
Money and fame tend to go hand in hand with loneliness. It has to be hard to spend time with someone and wonder if it’s your personality that drew them in or if it was the fact that you could cover every dinner, every drink, every bump that they enjoyed with you. Did someone stand up and say “Honey, you’ve had another tooth pulled because your jaw is rotting. Your immune system is going haywire from all of this abuse.” If they did, were they excommunicated? Were her friendships with those concerned short lived?
If someone is heavily medicating themselves further and further down the spiral, they know how to make things better for themselves. They medicate MORE. MORE MORE MORE. Gluttonous behavior is evident in every addiction. “I have to buy $100 in lotto tickets because when I hit the jackpot I can pay back the $20G I owe my bookie.” “I’m incredibly sad that I’m heavy and the only thing that is going to make me feel better is this 10 pound bag of Reese’s that I will eat instead of dinner. It’s got protein in it, so at least I’m not eating complete garbage.”
The reasoning is key. As someone that has never suffered from it (or even someone in recovery) you can see through the bull but they cannot. They can’t tell that it is a temporary solution that just continues to further the problem. Sometimes you take a few pills, feel like Superman, and think that you can get behind a driver’s seat. Then you wake up and your car is sideways and someone is dragging you against the glass of the shattered windshield that litters the gravel. You think nothing of the people that were riding with you. In fact, your vision is so blurred because your brain is swelling with a concussion.
There are problems with telling someone that they have a problem or need help. It is never going to matter to them or register as truth until they are ready to admit it. If they ARE ready to admit it, they might feel like they aren’t strong enough and relapse. As someone supporting rehabilitation it is hard to figure out if your support is actually helping. If you continue to support and support and support, are you creating your own addiction?
I had heard that Amy was pulled from rehab to continue on tour and was found on her own in her flat in London. I don’t know if that is true, but if she was pulled from a safe environment prematurely, why wasn’t there anyone with her? Did she request to be alone? Typically when you leave rehab there is a halfway house because (and I can’t believe I am saying this) addicts shouldn’t be trusted.
As an addict, you get really good at half truths and flat out lying.
RIP Amy. I wish you had your eureka moment. I would have loved to see you beat this.