On Sunday, October 23, music star Sinead O’Connor announced on her Facebook page she will spend the next year in a sober-living facility. Her post also revealed she has been in recovery for a marijuana addiction.
“I was in rehab by the way. For thirty years of being a weed head. Can proudly state I now have clean p**s and will be in a sober living environment for the next year,” O’Connor wrote. “It’s more like a home environment. Only its complete with support system. Which is a first for me. Proud of self. Wasn’t easy…”
Rise to Fame
Born in 1966, O’Connor first became famous at just 20 years old with the release of her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, in 1987. Driven partly by the track, “I Want Your (Hands on Me),” which includes a rap section by MC Lyte and was featured in the 1988 film A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, O’Connor’s debut album charted at #36 on the US Billboard Top 200 and remained on the charts for 38 weeks. It also charted in seven other countries, climbing to #4 in The Netherlands.
O’Connor drew more worldwide fame in 1990 with her version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which she released on the album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the U.S. for four weeks and the album stayed atop the Billboard 200 for six weeks.
The song’s memorable minimalist music video helped its popularity. The bulk of the video shows a close-up of O’Connor’s face as she sings wearing a black turtleneck and sporting her iconic shaved head. O’Connor’s pale skin against the black background and black turtleneck comprises an image full of striking contrast. The image grows even more powerful as tears roll down her cheeks near the end of the video. The emotional music video won Video of the Year at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards—the first time a female artist won the award.
Controversy and Turmoil
Following her rise to the top of pop music, O’Connor sparked controversy during a performance as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. As she finished her performance, an a cappella cover of Bob Marley’s “War,” O’Connor held a picture of Pope John Paul II, the sitting pope at the time, in front of the camera and proceeded to rip it into several pieces while saying, “Fight the real enemy.” She performed the controversial act as a protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.
The controversy caused by the Saturday Night Live performance is just one example of strife from a life filled with struggle. O’Connor was raised by an abusive single mother. She has been married four times. She has four children and endured a long custody battle. And, she recently became a grandmother.
Oppressed by societal norms, she struggled expressing her sexuality in the basic binary terms often associated with the subject—claiming to be a lesbian, then subsequently, partially recanting that statement. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but after she sought second and third opinions, other doctors refuted that diagnosis. The drama in O’Connor’s life seemed to reach a tipping point last year as a suicide attempt put her into a hospital. Later she went missing after failing to return from a bicycle ride.
Physical and Mental Health Struggles
After several recent health problems, O’Connor underwent a hysterectomy and endured complications stemming from the surgeon cutting her liver during the procedure. She wrote about her troubles during her recent announcement: “0-18 years in Ireland and then 34 years in music business and the s*** that’s gone on for the last year…. it’s a miracle I wasn’t on every drug in sundry,” she wrote.
O’Connor also wrote about how she feels today: “Still feeling so miserable from surgery. I don’t recommend it. Lost awful lot of blood as liver got cut accidentally so am weak as ***k but I do recommend hormone replacement. Am different person. Stupid Irish doctors never recommended it to me all year but I finally got it two weeks ago in US and am me again. Thank you to doctor here in America. And thank you to my surgeon.”
Her comments also hinted at how lonely celebrities can feel, stating, “Gotta go to emergency. Liver all ****ed and killing me. Can’t breathe properly it’s so sore. Am posting as am lonely. Story of life. Wish was not so alone in world. Gotta be worth something to someone after all these years and after all I given. Am so shocked to be so all alone.”
Hopefully, with the help O’Connor receives while in the sober-living facility, she will find she’s not as alone as she feels. Anyone who can relay the feelings of love the way she does in “Nothing Compares 2 U” deserves to feel some love for herself.
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