For Shuhada’ Sadaqat (Sinead) 1966 – 2023
She was a bit of a revelation when she skyrocketed to fame at the tender age of 21, during my troubled formative years. Her shaved head, haunting eyes and no-shit stance shook up a stagnant, fetid pond. I admired her and I liked her. I liked the reason she gave for shaving her head, I liked everything about her really. Little did I know I would grow up to share more in common with her than I would ever wish on anyone. She suffered from persistent mental illness and endured more than her share of suffering and hardship. I hope she is at peace now.
People, tabloids…the world…is having the “how did she die?” conversation, as always happens when someone notable passes. But more loudly, when that person has suffered from mental illness and dies young. How she died doesn’t matter. Why she died might.
Was she seen? Was she held? As she suffered? So many aren’t. The fact that some people still see mental illness as a moral failing and not a life-threatening condition, makes me angrier than almost anything else.
I just want to say this:
Mental illness is exhausting.
Not just for those who have it, but for those who don’t and still have to live with it, hear about it, endure its vicious consequences.
Given the choice, people sometimes walk away.
Who the fuck wouldn’t?
And that’s OK.
I sure would if I had the choice.
And I sure as shit am not blaming anyone, I just want to thank those of you who didn’t walk away.
And I want to thank those of you on the coalface, who choose to study and treat mental illness.
The world and I owe you our lives, especially now that things are so hard.
You must be so tired.
Also: I know Shuhada’ Sadaqat (Sinead) was a practicing Muslim. I have not portrayed her this way to sexualise her or to disrespect, upset or insult anyone, but rather to show her divested of the pain she bore for so long.