Scott Weiland, lead singer of the superb Stone Temple Pilots is dead at the age of just 48. He was a sufferer of bipolar disorder and well known for his struggles with drug addiction. This is a common feature of the lives of sufferers of this illness. Sufferers indulge in the process of self-medication. This is not, as the name might imply, attempting to cure oneself of the illness. Rather it is usually an attempt to mitigate the symptoms. I have done it previously with alcohol. In my case it was often done in the vain attempt to sleep. It is difficult to explain to a ‘normal’ person what it is like to stay awake for four or five days, but I can assure you that the desperate need for sleep after that is all-consuming. The other reason I did it was to dull the pain of severe depression. At this point I would stress to you that I was undiagnosed at this point and I had never heard of bipolar disorder. That is a very strange and difficult position in which to be. To not know that anything is wrong is to believe that one’s experience is what all others go through, meaning that when people would ask me if my doctor knew how I behaved (at times) I simply thought they were joking. It never occurred to me that I was unusual.
If you know somebody who drinks or uses drugs and it concerns you then it may just be the agony of mental illness that they are salving. I have long since gone teetotal, although compared to most my drinking was tame, and now my drug of choice is exercise. It is hard to stay awake after cycling 50-60 miles, pounding the pavement on a jog or swimming lap after lap. It is also good for me, but I look back to the days when I was down in the hole with a slightly tearful eye. How I wish that someone had recognised what I was going through and pulled me out. I had to do it for myself, and I cannot tell you how close I came to taking the ‘easy’ way out instead.
Of course, I cannot be certain what killed Weiland but I find it difficult to believe that his struggles with drugs did not contribute to it. And so another creative flame is extinguished, more than likely because of this illness that society is happy to leave to flourish because we do not do mental health treatment.
Scott Weiland, 48 years old, now asleep in the light.