This month it is Mental Health Awareness Month in Australia. I wanted to publish a post relating to mental health every day of the month so that I can personally raise awareness. You can find all posts, posted & upcoming on my schedule. In this post, I wanted to discuss my curiosity between the different reactions between what recently happened to Demi Lovato compared to Mac Miller. Note: this has a trigger warning for addiction, overdose & suicide.
On 24th July 2018, it was reported that Demi Lovato was rushed to hospital following an overdose of narcotics. Demi has battled mental health and addiction for her whole life. It was reported that she overdosed in her $8m home. Why should it matter, the cost of her home? This gives me so much anger because I feel that it implies that she had no right to be battling mental health or overdosing on drugs purely for the fact that she has money? Mental Health & addiction does not discriminate. If you battle mental health then you’ll know that material things cease to matter, all you can focus on is your own survival.
At the end of June, she released a single called Sober. It addresses how she had relapsed and was struggling to get sober again. She has never been quiet about struggling with sobriety and addiction.
Also, why did many in the media call it an ‘apparent overdose’? We know it was an overdose. An overdose is when you have taken too many drugs and your body can’t handle it. What we don’t know (and it is not our business to know) is whether it was an intentional overdose and whether she intended for it to end her life.
Demi’s History with Addiction
Demi was born in 1992 and her parents divorced in 1994. Her father battled alcoholism and her song ‘For the Love of a Daughter’ touches on more on their relationship. Demi suffered with depression, has battled eating disorders and self harm all before she turned 18. In 2011, (aged 18), she went into rehab for emotional issues after punching one of her dancers. She acknowledged then, that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has bulimia and had been using cocaine several times.
In 2012, she released a documentary called ‘Stay Strong’ about her rehab and recovery. Then, in 2013 (aged 20), she discussed living in a ‘sober-house’ to try and keep on track with her sobriety. In 2017, (aged 25), she admitted that during the filming of Stay Strong 5 years earlier, she had been hiding that she was still using cocaine and struggling with alcoholism. She said “I wasn’t working my program. I wasn’t ready to get sober. I was sneaking it on planes, sneaking it in bathrooms, sneaking it throughout the night. Nobody knew.” In June 2018, she released a song called ‘Sober’ about her relapse and sobriety struggles. Then in July 2018, aged 26, she almost died following an overdose. Her overdose wasn’t just a party gone wrong. She had been battling substance addiction and her mental health for at least a decade, since she was in her mid-teens, and that’s only what she has discussed.
On 7th September 2018, it was reported that Mac Miller, a rapper, had been found dead in his home. There are not many details about his death yet.
Mac’s History with Addiction
Mac Miller was born in 1992. In 2012 (aged 20), he developed an addiction to a combination of codeine & promethazine known as ‘lean’ to manage his stress on tour but admitted to being a drug user from the age of 15. In May 2018, the same month that him & Ariana Grande split up, he was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and a hit & run. When arrested for the DUI people blamed Ariana Grande saying she caused it because she broke up with him. Her statement was `I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they have to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years (and always will of course), but shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem.’
The Reactions from the Media & Social Media
I’ll start by talking about the reaction to Mac’s death. Outpourings of RIP and support were tweeted. The pain and regret that another life was taken by the demon of addiction was everywhere. What I didn’t see, was encouragement to seek help if you were struggling with addiction. When someone intentionally dies by suicide, there are a lot of ‘if you’re struggling, reach out’ statements, but with this I didn’t see any. Just compassion towards the dead.
This got me thinking about the reaction towards Demi Lovato’s overdose. She didn’t die. Many people talked about how she was a ‘druggie’ and ‘has major issues’ and ‘needs to sort her life out’. All of these phrases lack the compassion that Mac received. None of these phrases are going to help her to see that she is cared about and are rooting for her to find the right support to stay sober. This sends the message to those struggling with addiction that people will be condescending towards you if you make a mistake. That if you overdose only enough to cause bodily harm but not die, then people will say ‘I hope you take this as the wake up call you need’ rather than showing empathy and letting them know that they are loved.
Mac Miller’s death by overdose was treated more compassionately than Demi Lovato’s almost death. I am not by any means saying that we should stop showing support to those who died but rather, to show compassion & empathy to those that don’t too. Generally, those who do not die after an overdose need more emotional support, because they are the ones who have to try and move forwards after it. Stop rooting for those to fail. Stop saying you could`ve guessed something like this could happen when someone recovers physically from an overdose and start letting them know that you want to support them BEFORE the fact.
Addiction doesn`t discriminate. Once you are in the cycle, it is the hardest thing you will ever do to stay sober. Show compassion. Reach out to your friends & loved ones. Stop judging.
If you need help in staying or getting sober, you can contact: