After much speculation and debate as to the cause of her death, the world—or at least some of the world (me included)—has been waiting to hear of the toxicology reports on the death of Peaches Geldof. The daughter of Bob Geldof, the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats and the creator of the Live Aid charity concert, Peaches was found dead at her home on April 7th. At the time of her death, the post-mortem was inconclusive, but yesterday the toxicology report stated that she was “likely” to have died of a heroin overdose. She was pictured just days before her death at a fashion show looking every bit the groomed and put together celebrity she portrayed to the world.
So what makes a person who seems to have it all ingest poison or behave in a way that can only have devastatingly negative outcomes? Peaches had beauty, money, fame, adoration and acceptance from hoards of people. She had a beautiful home, two precious children and a handsome husband. What more could a person want? Why do all these talented, beautiful people—Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain among them—sabotage and self destruct to the point of death? Does their God-like status change their psyche so that they perhaps come to believe they are indestructible and beyond reproach?
There could be a million reasons, but famous people are human beings and if any of them were like me, they just wanted peace and contentment. They wanted to lay their head on their pillows at night without endless obsessive thoughts and painful memories piercing their consciousness. They wanted the incessant negative self talk to shut the fuck up for five minutes so they could perhaps bathe in some manner of self acceptance, even for a short while. They just wanted to feel like they belonged amidst the other inhabitants on this planet and less like they belonged on some outer reaches of the universe. And perhaps, just like me, they felt they would be so much better off on the outer reaches of the universe away from expectation, judgement and other people in general.
The more people I talk to about their addiction, the more I believe that it’s not fear of withdrawal that keeps us using but fear of ourselves and the pain we must endure if or when we finally put down our drug of choice. Unless we face our demons head on, it is my experience that an addict of any description will use again. Whether we are famous or not, the majority of the human race will seek joy and relief from struggle through material things or approval from people. The thing with addicts is that when we find something that works, it becomes a long-term solution and not the short term relief we initially anticipated. Our brain chemistry and psychological and emotional dispositions cause us to hold onto that quick fix till the consequences become unbearable to us or until we die.
Peaches said that becoming a mother herself was a central part of her healing process from losing her own mother Paula Yates to a heroin overdose in 2001. Peaches was just 11 at the time. As a mother myself, I can understand the depth of love and protection she felt towards her children and it may have been amplified by the loss of her own mother in such a tragic way. When we have experienced great loss and pain as children, we often strive even harder to ensure our own children never have to experience the pain and discomfort we have felt ourselves. But I can tell you that there is not a thing on this earth that can stop us from using if we become fixated on relieving whatever it is that is hurting us—not our children, not our money, not our fame.
The fact of the matter for me is that I must remain abstinent from chemicals and I can’t do that without daily maintenance. Staying clean has to be my number one priority. If I do not maintain abstinence, my life will completely disintegrate once again and I will not be able to even think about the welfare of another person. I think Russell Brand explained it best when he said, “The mentality and behavior of drug addicts is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help they have no hope.” I would say that it applies not just to drug addicts but to all addicts regardless of their preferred substance or behavior.
So I get why Peaches felt she had to use drugs, despite having every reason to live. I understand the merciless hold addiction has on a person. I also understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into staying clean. It is single handily the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life. It is also the very best thing that I have done in my life and I am all too aware of the fact that the majority of addicts never get clean and die far too young. So while many will wag fingers and tut tut at the seemingly disgraceful behavior of Peaches, there are also many who will feel great sorrow and identification with this woman who didn’t make it.
Peaches’ last tweet, the day before she died, was a picture of her in the arms of her mother. She was only a toddler. Two beautiful bright faces look out of that picture, oblivious to their ultimate demise in a disturbingly similar way.