The 27 Club

I don’t know why I keep thinking about the recent death of young singer Amy Winehouse. I definitely was not surprised, nor dare I say were countless other people, by her death.  But, it doesn’t make it any less sad.  She was only 27 years old, and no matter who you are, I think it’s hard not to feel sad one someone leaves this earth so young, regardless of the circumstance.

Adding to the intrigue with this artistic soul are the eerie number of other famous names in music representative of this so called 27 Club:  Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix and Kurt Cobain are the most recognized of the crew.  How striking that all of these folks definitely left a solid impression behind their deaths in terms of their music.  They all showed talent rare enough for them to be recognized even still, years after their early demise.

Drinking, drugs and rock and roll have gone together hand in hand since it’s been around. The riches, fame and stardom make it all too easy for those in the entertainment world to tap into a constant high, that if they are not careful will unplug them permanently from the world in which they live. For as common as it is to hear of an untimely death in the entertainment industry, it also never ceases to amaze me that some of the notable figures in the land of entertainment aren’t dead yet.  Keith Richards pops right into my head off the bat.  For as much hard partying as this guy did over the years, I’m amazed that he or some of the older hard partying rockers out there have not been found curled up in a ball from some drug or alcohol related malady.

One of the recurrent themes surrounding Amy Winehouse’s death is that she more than likely was manic. Even though she was often seen trashed and definitely not hinting of long stretches of sobriety, she herself even said at one point that she’s not a drunk, she’s depressed, and that’s how she self medicates.  How sad.  It just goes to show you how little we still do for folks that have issues with mental illness.  Look at another one of the latest guys in the media spotlight recently, Charlie Sheen.  There’s not many people that wouldn’t admit that this guy is a serious nut job.  I’ve heard speculation that he too is manic and tries to self manage this depression with alcohol and drugs, obviously pretty unsuccessfully as the pattern of his life shows many low, low points.

Why hasn’t there been much progess in the treatment of mental illness?  I still know personally of cases where shock treatment is still used to bring people with depression into some sort of livable state.  I have to imagine even though it may pull them out of their depression, I find it hard to believe that a treatment so intense would leave them as the same person that they were before, and not leave some serious damage along the way.

I hear repeatedly that drug treatment options for mental instability cause unfavorable side effects, and those suffering with illness often opt not to take the drugs that may help them.  I can’t say that I blame them in a lot of ways because one of the things that is often affected is their creativity, often brilliant creativity, that is often suppressed.  You have to wonder why there is not more focus on finding better treatments.  Is there too much of a stigma attached to mental illness, or is the brain just too complex a machine for us mere mortals to adequately tap into and treat? You would think enough of us are imbalanced enough that it would be a goldmine for pharmaceutical companies if there were drugs that actually made a real difference and didn’t take away what makes us so unique.

So, it is another sad day for the entertainment world that an expressive soul was not able to walk the fragile line to keep her in the world of the living. Perhaps it might be a spark for some brilliant soul to provide a real world solution for people that suffer with depression.  Amy I feel for ya and hope you are in a more peaceful place.

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