Please, dear readers, forgive me for writing about this. It will be a quick post, I promise.
I had never heard any of Amy Winehouse’s music before. All I remember about her was that she was a celebrity with big hair who looked vaguely like a cross between Elvira and Mick Jagger. But I’m writing about this because I’ve been seeing other people writing about it, and their reactions to her death have been disturbing me. The ones from devoted fans aren’t so bad, I understand their heartbreak. But there have been people saying things along the lines of, “She shoulda gone to rehab, lol”, and “This is what happens when you don’t clean up your act.” “She should have been about the music, not the drugs.”
As someone who has family members who struggled with addictions, this callousness and complete disregard for what influences people’s personal choices when dealing with an addiction upset me greatly. People who are not disabled/not addicted tend to be quick to make sweeping value judgements on the personal choices of others. It reminded me of when people tell those with OCD, ADHD/ADD, autism, and manic depression to “get medicated”, even if they have no wish to go on drugs, are fearful of the side effects, or do not want to lose the creativity/outlook/perspective/abilities that come with their disability.
Whether or not you seek treatment, what kind of treatment you seek, and whether you go through with it or not are personal choices. You cannot and should not feel entitled to tell an ill person what the best course of treatment is for them, unless you’re their fucking personal physician and have been solicited for such advice. I imagine as more details to Ms. Winehouse’s story come clear, there will be plenty of hand-wringers and armchair psychologists passing on messages about what she should have done in order to live. This is distressing, and speaks volumes about how little we value the personal choices and autonomy of the ill in our culture.
I’m sad that Ms. Winehouse’s story ended this way, and sad that she did not find a treatment which helped her cope with her addictions before her untimely death. But passing postmortem judgement on her choices is not going to bring her back, and it perpetrates the toxic environment for the ill and disabled that our culture continues to foster, which hurts more ill, addicted, and disabled people almost as much as their addictions do.