To lose their lives out on a limb…

[1] Brittany Murphy died a few weeks ago at the age of 32. I do not mean to exploit her in any way. The speculation surrounding her untimely passing just provides an example of a social problem that I feel needs addressing.

When news broke of Brittany Murphy’s death, there was speculation about drug use and/or an apparent eating disorder. This type of speculation always happens when a celebrity dies. Her husband and her mother did an interview this morning on the Today Show.

Let me say first, I don’t think they should feel the need to speak about their wife/daughter’s death. It’s personal for them and just because Brittany Murphy starred in movies (and, my personal favorite, was the voice of Luanne), it doesn’t mean that the public has to have an explanation of her death that goes beyond the public record/coroner’s report.

During the interview, her family denied that Brittany had either a drug problem or an eating disorder. I don’t doubt that they believed these statements. Brittany Murphy was frighteningly thin at some of her last public appearances, but this could be due to a lot of factors, only two of which being drugs or an eating disorder. I don’t know if either of these were the case, and I’m not going to speculate.

What does bother me is this:

Almost no oneĀ in this situation will ever admit that their loved one has/had a drug problem, an eating disorder, or any type of mental illness.

What are we so ashamed of?

There is still an unfortunate stigma attached with problems of the mind, and it’s disheartening. One shouldn’t be ashamed of an eating disorder or a drug addiction or depression or schizophrenia or any such “problem.” Nor should family members try to deny it, for whatever reason. It’s not your fault if someone you love has a mental illness of any sort. Nor does it mean that they cannot live a reasonable life or gain any sense of well-being. They just might need some help.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem is that we see these things as “illnesses” that carry stigma in the first place.


[1]Title taken from “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley… yes, I know it’s in poor taste.

Advertisements