Amy Winehouse – A Lost Little Girl, Who Could Have Been Saved

 

Reposted from Huff Post

I saw Amy Winehouse three or four times in person at the London Clinic in December of 2009. I was there regularly, visiting my terminally ill father. Even in that environment, she was vibrant yet restless, surrounded by bodyguards, but somehow alone. My Dad commented on how sad it was that she was there from her addictions when she had everything going for her. He was right – if only she had known it herself.

The media after her death in July 2011, focused on her alcohol and drug abuse. But they didn’t mention her bulimia, nor the depression she wrestled with since she was a teen. The new documentary film on her life directed by Asif Kapadia sets the record straight, telling the tale of a brilliant woman who was plagued with self-doubt and deficient in resilience.

She was a happy child, but a troubled teen, finding her ‘perfect’ diet early on – eating a lot and then throwing up afterwards. In some old video footage she talked about being an ugly mug, because she looked different from others. But therein lied her beauty, a striking, unique charm that made her Amy.

Three quarters of young girls today don’t like how they look and five out of six are worried about getting fat. Amy was one of those girls, one that society didn’t save. If these confidence issues aren’t addressed they seep into later life. Amy’s bad relationships all stemmed from a belief she didn’t deserve love. Her eating disorders and substance abuse weren’t part of a ‘rock and roll” lifestyle, but because she couldn’t cope with the reality of who she was.

Confidence comes from loving what you do, not from external stuff such as image and fame. Amy loved her music but she was plunged into a world of live events, paparazzi and TV appearances, which was her worst nightmare. All she wanted to do was expel her pain by converting it into lyrics and music.

At the Amy premiere at Cannes Film Festival, we were able to honour her life, remembering that she was a ‎woman of great achievement who struggled with many demons. Every single person in the cinema was moved to tears by her incredible story. Contrary to popular belief, she wasn’t party mad or overly hedonistic. She was a girl in trouble that needed help and somewhere along the lines society failed her. Had she been supported during those vulnerable teenage years when she found fame, she could have coped better with life. Excelling at sport, music, or in your studies is not a guarantee of feeling good on the inside. The pressure to be perfect today is immense and it can be an addiction in itself.

At the end of the film Amy’s bodyguard reveals that she regretted her stardom. She would have given anything to take it all back, to be able to walk down the street in peace. She is now known around the world for the very songs that made her ill, Back to Black about her toxic ex boyfriend and Rehab about well, the obvious. She just wanted to move on and compose some new work away from the media eye but the money machine kept whirring. Her father even brought a film crew with him when he visited her on retreat in St Lucia. Each time she reached a new milestone, the Brits, Grammys, singing with Tony Bennett, she would immediately relapse. For when you don’t think you’re good enough these goals are impossibly unattainable and at the same time they are addictive because they are the only proof of self-worth.

Let’s make Amy’s early departure a learning for us all to protect our children and those we love in trouble. For many, many people suffer from mental health problems that have been swept under the carpet for too long. Amy wasn’t crazy, nor was she a wildchild. She was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent, and she just needed the tools to assist her – if the appropriate coping mechanisms had been imparted along the way, from childhood, through to her years in the spotlight, things could have been very different.

Amy Winehouse shone very brightly and she still does. She is a reminder to all of us to take care of those we love and build, not crush, their confidence. Self-harming, eating disorders and suicide are all on the rise and we need to curb this heart-breaking trend. Her loss is deeply tragic but she has left an incredible legacy and not just her music. She has pathed the way for our youngsters, to stand in their truth and truly believe in themselves.

 

You are not stuck

 Grateful thanks for this post  from


LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH

My dad drank Budweiser for breakfast and Chivas for lunch. Then he usually crashed by early evening, leaving me guessing what he would’ve had for dinner. I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t have been food.

I was daddy’s little girl and often wondered as a kid why he didn’t love us enough to stop drinking, especially when it seemed clear that was the root of so many of our family’s troubles.

When I asked that question (silently, of course), I didn’t necessarily think there was something wrong with me. I was a good kid, until the rebellious teenage years, anyway: doting, obedient, perfectionist. I wondered what was wrong with him. What inside his head made his addiction more important than family, than home, than life itself?

The older I got, and the more entrenched I became in my own drinking, the more I understood: Life is hard and drinking is easy. It smoothes the rough corners and edges. It insulates. It facilitates escape to softer place.

Until it doesn’t. And you don’t need to hit rock bottom to trust that fact. It’s an inevitable progression if not interrupted. (Don’t believe me? Just watch: http://bit.ly/1p3IA58)

My dad knew. I remember a time about 10 years ago, several years before he died, taking him to lunch and telling him about some recent anxiety, depression and panic attacks I’d had.

“Get it fixed,” he said, and went on to share his own battles with depression, which I’d never understood before. “Get it fixed now.”

All these years, I thought he meant fix the depression for the sake of fixing depression. I didn’t understand until just yesterday – with the insight of a remarkable therapist – that he was really telling to take the depression seriously enough so that it wouldn’t fuel the fire of addiction.

He wanted me to interrupt the progression so that I didn’t become like him.

It was a warning. He was trying to save me.

Those of us who struggle with addiction have to be willing to listen to the warnings – not just the voices that speak to us from the outside, but the faint voice INSIDE that finds the courage to speak up every now and then. We have to heed the signs.

Of course, those signs take many forms. They’re not all towering billboards… or can’t-miss neon… or come with flashing cherries.

Sometimes they’re subtle. They whisper. They’re relatively benign.
Like the time I sat in a new doctor’s office, filling out page after page of intake forms. I remember feeling too embarrassed to answer truthfully the questions: “Do you drink alcohol? If so, how many drinks per week?” (FYI, the gov’t considers more than three drinks on any single day or more than seven drinks in a week to be “heavy” drinking for women. For guys, it’s more than four drinks a day, or 14/week.)

That embarrassment was a sign.

Or the time, at the end of a particularly stressful day, that my 4-year-old asked me if I wanted a glass of wine “to feel better.” Or when my 6-year-old drew a picture of the family eating dinner and outlined everyone’s drink: “Daddy: water. Sister: milk. Mommy: wine.”

That was a sign.

Or the time that I nearly hit another car head on because I was driving under the influence. I shudder to think of how my selfishness nearly cost someone else something precious.

Another warning.

I tried for years to drink less. I made New Year’s resolutions. Wine on weekends only, I’d swear. Drinking allowed only with dinner. Last January, I challenged myself to no wine for 30 days; I made it three.

That inability to curb my desire in the moment – along with the knowing that children of alcoholics are about four times more likely to develop alcohol problems – was another sign. And it made me realize I needed a more drastic, permanent step.

I needed to stop modeling a pattern of behavior I didn’t want my kids to repeat, because I know what some youngsters do when they see their parents drink all the time. It’s monkey see, monkey do: They think a cocktail in hand ‘round the clock is completely normal because they have no reason to believe it’s not. (Only as a parent can I appreciate my poor mother’s horror the day I showed up at her house one weekday afternoon, 16 years old and wearing my Catholic schoolgirl uniform, with a cold longneck in hand.)

But that behavior – whether it’s a drink or a drug or a lay or any other distraction we use to escape reality – does more than just take the edge off. As Brené Brown writes in “Daring Greatly,” “We can’t selectively numb emotions. Numb the dark and you numb the light.”

And life’s too amazing to journey through it numb.

So I stopped.

In one breath, I decided.

I released the clutch on my crutch.

Because I love them enough. Most importantly, I love myself.
Now, in the past year of sobriety, I’ve been working on repatterning more than the consumption habits. I’m resetting what “normal” looks like – for me, but mostly for my beautiful daughters.

I want their normal to include the courage to work through the complicated situations head on, not to sidestep them with distractions.

I want them to learn to feel and process the full, exhilarating range of human emotions – joy and grief, excitement and boredom, having your wishes fulfilled and longing for more. It’s through the experience of that contrast that we appreciate the highs.

I want them to know that we can stumble and trip, fall and bleed, and still get up to walk, run and even fly again.

I want them to know that those moments of struggle can actually bring us to a state of grace, if we are clear-headed and filled with intent.

I have the intent… and I’m working toward the grace.

As the Zen saying goes: “No mud, no lotus.”

And as the late, great Leo Vollmer told me: “Get it fixed.”

And as I say: “Love yourself enough.”

xo, Becky

It’s been a while…

Hello! Well, I haven’t been here for a while, but I thought I would say hello. Day 94 and I’m feeling proud of myself for that! I am full of disbelief – I knew that I was finding it easy, but there was a niggle of doubt as to whether I would be able to stick it. It is a massive achievement, given some of the shite I’ve had to deal with since I stopped drinking alcohol and would normally have turned to alcohol to help me deal with said shite.  I can only pray that I continue to have no cravings or moments of weakness.

My mum made me feel awesome today (mums can be quite good at that most of the time but this was something else for me!) She has been very forthcoming with words of praise since I stopped drinking alcohol. ‘I’m really proud of you’, ‘You are doing so well’, ‘Keep up the good work’. We went out shopping today and my mum likes to go for a drink (usually on a Saturday, but Good Friday is fine too). While we were out, she asked me if I was ok with her and my dad having a drink – it was absolutely fine with me. I sat and sipped my elderflower pressė. Then, back at home later on this afternoon – out of the blue – she says, ‘Do you know, what you have done is better than anyone else in this entire family has been able to do and followed through with it?’ (Ooooh, this’ll be a long list, thought I!! Jokes) ‘What’s that mummy dearest?’ I replied, in the polite manner that we always talk to each other… ‘You recognised that you can’t handle drinking alcohol and you sought help and did something about it. No-one else in this family as EVER done that’.

I suppose I should point out here that my family are all big drinkers. BIG drinkers. Apart from the ones that aren’t and those ones don’t drink AT ALL. We’re an all or nothing family of drinkers, it would seem.

My uncle is coming to visit tomorrow and I actually can’t wait to tell him I’ve stopped drinking. He likes a drink and if the slightest thing sets him off when he’s had a few, he turns into a nasty drunk. Which is what happened to me (among other things) when I was drunk. I had already thought last week that I can’t wait to tell him that I can’t handle alcohol, that I suffer with depression and recognised that I had to make a change. My mum saying what she said today made me feel so happy. Happy that it makes her happy, happy that people recognise it’s no mean feat. And I also felt a pang of sadness, because I think my mum would have liked it if more of the family had been able to do the same a lot earlier on. I’ve achieved a major goal and I’m going to bloody well share it!! At least I know The Olds are proud, and that really matters 😉

Hope you all have a peaceful Easter, feel proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to share them with your loved ones.  Alternatively, grab a ladder, climb up to the roof of your house, and SHOUT ABOUT IT!!

Toodle-oo for now xxx

Grateful

Well, I have done 75 days sober!

Today I have been lucky enough to meet some of the most genuine, friendly, caring and supportive people from the world of SWANS and Soberistas.

It has been so special meeting them face to face and building a bond that I hope will continue into the future. Meeting people who share the same issues and who understand what we are going through is a big part of the recovery process – so today has meant a great great deal to me. I did have a bit of a moan about not feeling brilliant since I stopped drinking alcohol. I’m proud to have reached today, without a doubt, but there are things that aren’t going great:
1) I’m not sleeping (approx 15 hours in the last week)
2) My skin is shit
3) I’ve not lost weight
4) My depression hasn’t improved

But then some of the positives…
1) I’ve not been in hospital due to overdosing on meds
2) I’ve not blacked out and lost great big chunks of time
3) I have been out and met more people in 10 weeks than I have in the last 10 years (no joke)
4) I have overcome my fear of speaking in front of people (although I felt today was all over the place due to zero hours sleep last night)
5) I have been more honest than I’ve ever been
6) I can remember chatting to people (although I didn’t get over my confusion today of real/online names!)
7) I haven’t been angry/violent

I think these outweigh by a mile the things that aren’t ‘going great’.

It’s about weighing things up realistically and yes, sleep and depression are biggies, but their time will come. I will, at some point in the future, be the all-round well-rounded person I can be.

Patience is a virtue 😉

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone xx

From the beginning…

I first posted this on Soberistas in February, I left the site the following day and I haven’t felt up to writing the next part yet. I will do soon I hope.

This is going to be a long story so I apologise in advance…it may seem totally irrelevant in parts but I’ve had all this in my head for so long I need to get it out…if you do try to read, I apologise for the way I write it…its just going down as it comes to mind. Some parts may not make sense I think and I am sure the chronological order of everything may not be perfect.

My mum was born into a dysfunction family…her father left when she was only a baby and my Irish grandmother was left a single mother of three young children, in the late 40’s this was frowned upon an as such my mother grew up as a social outcast, I remember her telling me she never felt she fitted in and was always thought of as odd, they were very poor and the church helped them out often. Throughout my mothers childhood my grandmother drank, at a constant level. My mother had two older brothers who my grandmother struggled to keep under control, when they got to their teens they both went into the film industry and started earning a lot of money. They bought a sports car and used to go to parties and casinos in London, this was in the late 50s…they partied hard and drank a lot. On the way home one morning my eldest uncle lost control and crashed the car, killing his brother. He was arrested and was charged, the court case was long and drawn out, but he avoided prison. This propelled my grandmother into a severe depression and her drinking increased, my mother found her with her head in the gas oven a number of times.
Around this time, my mother went into nursing…she left home and moved to the training hospital in central London, this gave her the opportunity to just be who she wanted, she told me she loved to go to parties but rarely drank.
When she completed her training she carried on working at the hospital…she met my dad in 69/70 he was 10 years older than her and seemed very grown up. They married in the early 70’s and my mother was unaware of his chronic alcoholism at this stage. He worked, he was well liked, he never drank at parties. But the house was held up by his empty litre whiskey bottles…apparently they were everywhere in every possible space. I was born in 75 my sister in 76…my dad was a doting father, but the pressure of living with an alcoholic was too much for my mother…they separated on a number of occasions as well as my dad trying various in and out patient treatments. Finally in the early 80’s they parted company…my dad moved to another town and we moved too. We lost contact with him for a few years as his drinking continued, but finally my mother found him in a mental hospital, we visited him there on a few occasions and when he left he moved to a halfway house then a small flat.
So, as for me…I always felt like I was different, I never fitted in and was a bit odd. Having to keep family secrets is a lot to bear for a child. I was also very bright…my mother was obsessed with taking me to places to get my IQ tested! At 3 I had the reading age of a 12 yr old…but I hated school with a passion. I was always in trouble for being obstinate. I went to a convent school with French nuns and they were wicked…I was regularly caned and had my mouth washed out with soap on a number of occasions. I don’t remember anything happy or fun about these years, my mother was a hard woman and I didn’t like her. We spent weekends with my dad and he always had a bottle of ‘coke’ with him…that was out of bounds for us!! The weekends with my dad were full of fun, I realise now that my mum had the usual family stuff to deal with and had to keep a roof over our head and pay school fees all on her own, so my dad got the easy bit of just providing us with lots of good times!
I think it was probably when I was about 8 that I remember my mum starting to go out drinking with her friends…the overwhelming smell of her perfume, Opium turns my stomach now. My grandma was with us a lot during these years and we spent the whole of the summer holidays with her, miles from home as my mother worked full time. I wouldn’t see my dad for the whole of the holidays. During my primary school years I saw child psychiatrists regularly…I had a problem with not talking, I could just shut myself off. I remember the head teacher shouting at me…she really lost it, I expect I was a very frustrating child! I wet the bed every single night till I was 11, soaked from head to toe, I remember shivery nights being stripped off and put back to bed three or four times. I spent a lot of time in hospital having all sorts of investigative operations. Phew think that’s enough for now.

Back down

Hey there – a warning to any reader: I am feeling very low today so won’t be a happy blog!

So I suffer from depression and have done for about 10 years.  I take medication, although I’m not entirely sure of its efficacy.  I am up and down like a tart’s knickers.  I have been ok for a while and today, I just want to lie in bed, watching rubbish on TV and trawling through similar rubbish on the web.  I have just eaten three two-finger KitKats in succession because I can’t be arsed to go for anything outside of my bedroom.  I haven’t had, nor do I want, contact with anyone.  I have replied to a message out of necessity and politeness, but other than that –  nothing.

I went to a talk last night about the Law of Attraction and my behaviour today would have them all in paroxysms of disgust.  I downloaded a type of gratitude diary and filled in some of that.  I chatted about the positive things that have happened to me recently – which made for a short discussion!  I listened to tips on how to apply the Law of Attraction.  I listened to a room full of people declare that ‘it really works’, as if trying to convince themselves more than anyone else.

I get it… but I’m not entirely sure about it.

Anyway, you’d think that all that positivity would have rubbed off a little bit? But no – between the time I fell asleep with thoughts of all I could have swathing through my brain to the time I woke up – some heavy weight decided to take up residence and screw me down.

As quickly as that and with no warning.  With no reason.

So, I can just see the lucky side of being sober in this situation.  I need to remember the necessity of being sober in this situation.  I’m depressed, yes.  But I’m not taking an overdose and being kept in hospital because my heart rate is that of someone about to die of a heart attack.  I can’t face the thought of going outside, of having to engage with anyone –  nope.  But at least I won’t be wandering the streets at all hours of the morning on my own, getting into fights – and not remembering any of it.  I want to be alone – yes indeed! But I have commitments this weekend and I will make sure I fulfil them, rather than get so wildly drunk and not give a shit who I let down or who I upset.  That’s the difference.

Sobriety doesn’t cure all – but it enables me to stay safe, stay alive and be trusted again.

And it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend!  I have daughterly duties to undertake!  My mum told me how proud of me she is last night on the phone and I still feel like shit.

Why?

The worst thing about depression is not knowing why you are depressed.  Not being able to put into words the reason you feel so dark and low and worthless and insignificant.  But at least I can say why it’s better without alcohol (on Day 74!)  I can clutch onto that tiny positive for now.

Happy weekend to you all and stay sober and safe :-/

 

Reflections…

 

This is a post from when I was at about 60 days. I can remember it clearly as It was the first time I had had any real cravings…It is weird that I am re reading it today as I have been craving oblivion a bit today…the monotony of life gets to me sometimes, I do love the peace and calm I have now sober, but those feelings do creep up on me now and again. The difference is I have all the tools in place to deal with these feelings now…or failing them, bed and sleep!

 

 

What a weekend…

I feel exhausted.

Friday I had an appointment about my back, I have been waiting months for this and kind of trying to ignore it too. The news wasn’t great, as I have tried all the conventional methods it seems an operation is my only option and worse still I can not do any exercise…apart from swimming or yoga. I hate swimming!

Saturday was a long stressful day, I volunteered to help serving teas and coffees at an event my children were taking part in. I spent 8 hours serving, my brain was fried and all I wanted to do was have a huge glass of cold wine and switch my brain off. I came home and laid on the bed still in my coat for an hour. Thinking about that glass of wine and how I’d feel such relief downing it. I laid there and imagined that wine.

I came down and told my husband I could murder a glass of wine, he was shocked…then he kind of said I’d done so well, maybe a glass wouldn’t hurt. Oh those words…

Take me back 60ish days and I would have been praying for those words, that opportunity, any excuse to give in.

I’ve felt so depressed today, I have been beating myself up all day. It’s stupid, I am such a perfectionist and have felt like I have been doing so well, no cravings blah blah blah. But it all means nothing, this has hit me like a train.

I can not take anything for granted. I have to work hard and not get complacent. I have an appointment with a recovery service tomorrow, I am so scared but I don’t think just me on my own will cut it long term I need to throw all I can get at it.

I have to do this and I don’t want to be hanging on by my fingernails.