In past two years we have lost two of our most iconic stars from the 80s. I will be honest and say that I was not a huge fan of most of Whitney Houston’s music. However I do recognize that her voice is one of the most memorable musical instruments ever. Unfortunately, she lies now on a legacy that is tainted by erratic behavior, substance abuse, sadness, and desperation. It is only natural for us to wonder why this happened.

Being famous can come with a heavy price. So can being extremely talented. How many athletes have we seen go from greatness to a punchline in a comedian’s act? However, the problem that we see celebrities face is not a problem that is owned by them alone. We are fast-paced society that doesn’t know how to deal with its feelings. If we have negative feelings, we are much more likely to distract ourselves than to face them head on. I am not saying that distraction is all bad, but it doesn’t solve the long-term problem. If you continue to avoid a problem, it continues to build up until facing it seems too overwhelming to handle.

How many Americans use prescriptions in hope that their problems with depression or anxiety will simply go away? I firmly believe that medications can help with these problems, but they don’t solve the underlying issues. If you have a problem with depression, it is important to figure out what you are depressed about, so that you can do something about this. Whitney was allegedly surrounded by drugs that were presumably legal to use (as prescribed). If she was prescribed such drugs, she obviously felt pained. What she was feeling depressed or anxious about is only speculation, and I don’t want to waste time trying to tell someone’s story whom I don’t know at all. But she would not be alone in feeling depressed or anxious and not knowing where to turn or how to deal with this.

We all have anxious or depressed feelings from time-to-time. It’s what we do with them that is significant. Therefore, the bigger issue is knowing what to do when we don’t feel well. The responsibility is, in part, that of the professional community as well. As professionals, it is our responsibility to educate and assess our clients and talk with them about other services that they may benefit from, and make a referral to such professionals as needed. As clients it is important to first accept the feelings that you have and take responsibility so that you can change this. It’s important to understand that you can make a positive change in your life. Many times people feel as though the negative feelings they live with are feelings they are stuck with forever. Or if feelings have been lessened by medication, but continue to persist, this is the best that they can feel. Therefore, if you feel pessimistic, worry a lot throughout your day, feel sad most days, have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or any other addictive behavior, find help. Allowing the problems to sit in a box on a dusty shelf seems less intimidating than dusting off the shelf and understanding what is in the box. But opening this box is the only way to finding long-term contentment.

In closing, the mystery behind celebrity tragedies is no real mystery at all. We are used to seeing them on television appear content and composed. But behind the exterior, they are people who live with flaws and vulnerabilities. Alcohol and drugs are also very accessible to them. We like a story of triumph from despair, but we don’t know how to deal with the despair portion of the story. Therefore, aren’t these celebrities just a microcosm of a much larger cultural issue? Are we, as a country, in touch with how we feel? Do we know what to do with our feelings when we are faced with them? Or are we becoming increasing lost in the distractions of our daily lives and technology? The answer is likely more complex and middle-grounded than that. Either way, it is important to learn from what happened yesterday and today, so that we can change for a better tomorrow.

Your comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged.


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