Back in 1986, I met a very young woman who started out being a friend and it turned into something far different one night. She introduced me to some of her friends, and at a party one night one of those friends was listening to someone I had never heard of before, a young Irish singer named Sinead O’Connor. It was O’Connor’s first album and only one person there had even heard of her before.
“The Lion and the Cobra” O’Connor’s debut album, was, and it still is, a raw and majestic, a manic and thoughtful, an energetic and soulful, masterpiece that drives and beats and soars. Step into it at your own risk for you’ll never be quite the same. I wasn’t and I never will be.
By 1990 the woman I knew was long gone, regrettably perhaps, but O’Connor stepped into the breach once more and released her most famous work, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”. With the impressive and breathtaking album, which would bring her fame and fortune, also highlighted her deep divisions with the mainstream of humanity which culminated with her spot on and righteous attack on Pope Paul II on SNL, in 1992.
From personal experience, I can tell you that attacks on religion aren’t always considered to be freedom of religion from those who are religious.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, O’Connor suffered terribly from the abuse of alcohol and depression. Her personal life became a roller coaster and she has been married four times to date.
On 8 August 2017, less than a month ago, Sinead O’Connor posted a twelve-minute video on Facebook claiming that she is living in a motel in New Jersey, and contemplating suicide. The video is a tough watch, especially for those of us who, back in 1987, listened to this woman scream her way into our hearts.
Take twelve minutes of your life and watch the video. It’s ugly. It’s not the same person, you will tell yourself, who let a tear slip down her face while singing, “Nothing Compares 2 You”. Allow yourself to believe that substance abuse is a personal choice and she got herself into this mess, and she blew a brilliant career, too. Indulge, if you care to, in the luxury of out of sight out of mind thinking, once she’s dead. Another spoiled rich singer, burnt out and flamed out, and so the story goes.
Except it doesn’t.
Now, take twelve seconds of that video, pick any twelve seconds, of that video, and instead of seeing a woman pleading for help because she’s mentally ill, instead pretend there’s a human being right in front of you who is bleeding out because they’ve been cut.
Why is your reaction to a mental illness so different than one where someone has a congenital heart defect? Why is someone who is bleeding out from their soul so very different from someone with hemophilia?
Do this now: Go find someone who’s lost a wife, or a husband, a son or a daughter, a loved one, a friend, a brother or sister, a mother or a father, and sit down and tell that person that suicide is a choice only, and that mental illness is something anyone can work their way through, and you have no sympathy for that sort of thing when there’s substance abuse involved.
Not interested? But were you leaning towards those thoughts during the video?