a young Amy Winehouse

There’s an enormous chasm between people who have never suffered from a mental illness and those who have. For the unafflicted, it’s incredibly hard to comprehend, and for those of us on the other side, it’s almost impossible to explain.

I can tell you that I suffer from depression. I can say that, every day, I wage a war against my own mind in an effort to keep myself functional on a good day and alive on a bad one. I can try to describe the feeling that always lingers in the back of my brain that tells me that I’m worthless, and admit that it is, all too often, stronger than the rest of me, stronger than my tireless therapist, stronger than the love of all of my family and friends combined. But if you haven’t been there, or somewhere similar, you can’t truly feel the unbearable, relentless weight of it.

If you have no history of mental illness, it’s probably pretty easy to dismiss the death of a twenty-seven year old addict whose biggest hit was a flippant “no no no” to treatment. She had talent and riches and adoring fans. She had every possible resource available to her, but she continuously refused help. Clearly, she was carelessly throwing away her gifts and her life.

I didn’t know her, and I wasn’t in her head. But I can almost guarantee you that it wasn’t that simple.

The dismissive comments I’ve been reading on the internet about Amy Winehouse are getting to me. It saddens me that so many people think that a woman with her problems was entirely unworthy of sympathy and that she deserved what they consider an obvious and inevitable fate.

But what really breaks my heart is that that little girl up there would probably have agreed with them.

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