I heard the news about Amy Winehouse's death yesterday afternoon on the radio as I was driving home. Despite the struggles that she lived out in such a painfully public way, her death has still come as a shock to so, so many. I know that I was shocked, and yet, if I'm honest, I wasn't surprised. She was in and out of rehab many times for drug and alcohol addiction, her tours were cancelled due to her instability, she got into legal trouble more than once, she displayed erratic behaviors with people and repeated these patterns in the public eye over the course of the last few years. The thing is... in spite of all of these major red flags, her death is still shocking. I don't think we ever actually expect people to die, even when they are engaging in self destructive and self harming behaviors.
I am one part sad and devastated over the tragedy of it all, and one part angry. It is so hard to see this happen, when it seems like it could have been avoided somehow. I wrote a post a few years ago when Brittany Murphy passed away (to check it out, follow this link) and I have some of the same feelings now that I did then. Hopefully this can serve as a big wake-up call.. As well as a reminder that while people are ultimately responsible for their own actions and choices, if there are people in our lives that we see struggling-- with addiction, an eating disorder, or any other life threatening condition or behavior that is rooted in mental health/mental illness-- it is essential to act!
I have read quotes by Amy's mother in a few articles, and she admitted that her daughter's premature death was only a matter of time. Someone who is struggling with addiction must take the steps to get better, and must choose to get help- no one can do this for the person suffering. However, in order to get to that place, sometimes people need tough love by the people who are in their lives. While Amy's tour had recently been cancelled so that she could work on her health and recovery (allegedly her drinking), I just wonder if there is something more that could have been done. Maybe her record label could have put more serious sanctions in place, or the people that worked for her could have refused to continue to take care of her. These questions aren't coming from a place of judgment, because who knows, maybe these things were going on behind the scenes! The point is... if you know someone who is struggling, don't be afraid to step in and encourage them to get help, or seek treatment. If it means creating different boundaries in your friendship or relationship with this person until they are healthy, then do what is necessary!!
If you are the one struggling and you are ambivalent about getting better, perhaps this is a good time to consider some very important things. What kind of life do you want to have? What sort of things are interfering with you from having that life? Do you believe that you are putting yourself in danger? Do you trust the people around you, and their concern and care for you? If not, why? What is holding you back from living the life you want? Often, these answers can be rooted in deeply painful places, and it is tough to face them. I encourage you to approach these questions thoughtfully, and move in a direction towards healing. The loss of Amy's life (and many others as a result of addiction, eating disorders, etc) is truly tragic and there is hope.