Treating depression with alcohol and recreational drugs is always, always, ALWAYS a bad idea. Once upon a time, when I toddled into Student Services to see somebody about mine, the first thing she asked was how much I drank alcohol. I almost never drank alcohol. The shrink was relieved.
I am very sorry that Amy Winehouse is dead at 27. What makes so many artists really good artists is their capacity for deep feeling. Many artists are sensitive because it is sensitivity, in partnership with talent, hard work and Providence, that makes them good artists.
That is why artists seem so often to have mood disorders and also why sometimes they can be very hard to live with. Whenever I hear a conversation about someone I haven't met yet who has manic-depression, I always get very excited and ask if they make art. (I don't, incidentally, have manic-depression, but Graham Greene did. Evelyn Waugh also suffered from depression much of his life, and G K Chesterton famously had a nervous breakdown.)
I fear some people look down on Amy Winehouse for her crazy, self-destructive behaviour. But all I could see in the photographs flashed on the news last night was a sensitive young Jewish woman who was not pretty. Except for the beehive and the slashes of eye-paint, Amy was as ordinary-looking as most of us. And this was in an industry where, for women, looks are just about everything: there's a smidge of concern about actual talent.
Amy had talent and a gorgeous, smokey voice. She used her sensitivity to write and sing songs. Unfortunately, instead of working out an agreement with her pain, she tried to drown it with drink. And I'm very sorry about that.
So at Mass today I'll be praying for Amy Winehouse. I hope you will, too.