Monday, February 18, 2013

Remembering Mindy McCready; Thinking of the Bigger Picture

I would guess by now the world has learned of the sudden, but perhaps sadly unsurprising passing of country music singer Mindy McCready.  McCready came to sudden prominence in the mid-1990's with a wonderful album called Ten Thousand Angels, which spawned two of her biggest hits in the title track and her only #1 song, "Guys Do It All The Time."  At that time, it appeared that country music had a new, very talented and beautiful young lady who had the potential to become it's next female superstar.  After all, she was opening up shows for the likes of Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson, two of the biggest country music superstars of the day.  It seemed McCready was a can't-miss prospect. The fame, spotlight and fortune for Mindy McCready however, was fleeting.  I write about this today because back in the 1990's I was, and still am, a fan of Mindy McCready. 

In recent years, McCready became arguably more famous for her demons in life.  And I feel a certain sadness as I write those words.  It's not specifically about Mindy McCready, but it is about the millions and millions of people around the world that suffer from mental illness that contributes to their addictions that take over and, in some cases, destroys their lives.  As evidenced yesterday, that illness and addiction can ultimately end ones' life. 

CNN's Dr. Drew Pinsky had an interesting take on McCready's passing, which I believe can apply in the non-celebrity world.  McCready appeared on one of the season's of "Celebrity Rehab, with Dr. Drew", and seemed to have turned a corner in her life upon leaving Drew's program.  However, the sudden passing of her boyfriend less than a month ago had been a horrible setback for the young lady.  McCready had spent a week in a psychiatric hospital to assist with her healing.  Last week, McCready checked herself out of the hospital, a move that can now only be questioned with her suicide.  Dr. Drew, visibly upset and angered at this turn of events, had reached out to Mindy McCready, offering to help her through this difficult life moment.  Dr. Drew had mentioned that a main concern of McCready's, was that she did not want to have the stigma of mental illness attached to her, ostensibly because it would have a terrible impact on an already damaged career.  Dr. Drew, in my view rightly, pointed out that the media and social media had played a part in attaching that stigma to McCready.  Can anyone recall a time when a headline about Mindy McCready didn't start with "Troubled Country Star ... "?  I'm sure we can all guess what "trouble" is being referred too.  In the case of Mindy McCready, it seems the albums and radio hits came to a screeching halt when her personal problems started taking over.  If one thinks back over the years with other troubled celebrities, it seems apparent that their career ended when mental illness and addictions won the day.  Reality also tells us, that it's not just celebrities that suffer that fate.

I've been pleasantly surprised with the comments that have been posted in online stories regarding McCready's passing.  They have been quite respectful, for the most part.  Comments on the internet are seldom completely clean.  I have been impressed at the many thoughts, prayers and condolences that have been offered to McCready's two young children who have lost their father/step-father and mother in the span of a month to incredibly terrible circumstances.  A situation like this that these two children find themselves in is unimaginable.  I too, lend my thoughts, prayers and condolences to the McCready family, and especially her children.

My great hope is that Mindy McCready's passing will help others who are suffering from the same afflictions to find and accept the help they are looking for.  We can all play a part in changing the way mental illness is portrayed.  If the stigma can be dropped, that is one less thing for an afflicted person to worry about.  It may seem small and simple, but it can make a world of difference, not to mention save a life. 

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