Saturday, July 23, 2011

Addiction is not a choice.

Amy_Winehouse died today.  As of now, her cause of death is yet to be determined, though it would not be shocking if it were from a drug overdose considering her past drug related behaviors.  The Twitter has been all ablaze all afternoon with comments being thrown back and forth about her death, from; "Who didn't see this coming?! She did this to herself! #Dumbass", to "So sad. RIP ".  Here are my thoughts about the situation.

What initially started as a choice - IE to take the first hit of cocaine - quickly becomes something more than someone can handle - IE a cocaine addiction. If you are addicted to food, people see your figure & weight fluctuate. Addicted to gambling? People see you lose everything, and ultimately win at nothing.  To me, drugs and alcohol are a lot like a mental illnesses.  When someone over medicates themselves with drugs or alcohol, you don't visibly see the demons that are flashing in their minds. Sure - they absolutely may rage on other people when they are drunk or high, or cry uncontrollably into their Vodka Tonic at the end of the night in front of no one.  But no one knows the inner dialogue that is running in that person's mind that got them to that place of rage or sobbing.  You can not hear the inner voices that surly invade the mind of someone dealing with demons. The constant babble of indecision, and doubt, and self worth, and worse.  Much, much worse.

Much the same, when someone suffers from depression, or anxiety, or crippling fear, for example - some things that MOST people cannot control without some external help (counselor, medication, hospitals, a combination of those) - we do not see what is happening mentally with these people.  Was is multiple deployments of their husband in a short amount of time to a dangerous locale, which in turn made that person clinically depressed? Did someone break into their house, or steal their identity, which has caused them to have a life altering anxiety disorder?  YOU DON'T KNOW!  No one does.  That's what makes it such a slippery slope in society believing a person could be mentally ill and yet still "function" effectively in society. Much like an alcoholic learns how to cover their (drunk) tracks in the world, a depressed person may learn to blend with society in the day, smiling and laughing along with everyone else, and melt into a puddle late at night when they are all alone.  YOU DON'T KNOW what goes on behind closed doors.

No one chooses to have a mental illness for their life's path, and conversely, no one chooses addiction as a way to end their life.  She may have chosen to drink and do drugs initially, but addiction is a trap in which it is hard to free yourself from.  I am sure that none of the people who are saying that she "deserved to die" because she "chose" this for herself, would tell an anorexic man's family that he "deserved to die" because of his "choice" to not eat.  It was not something that he could help.  His mental demons were too much to bear.

Mentally - neither of them had a choice in the end.  Honestly.

If you don't agree with me, let's just agree to disagree.