Srini Pillay

On December 25, 2016, George Michael died. An amazing singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist, his heart and liver failed him at the tender age of 53.

When I think of George Michael, I think of his great songs: the dreaminess of “Careless Whisper”, the classic rock ‘n roll vibe of “Faith” and the incredibly upbeat “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. And then there were also those beautifully made supermodel videos like “Too Funky” that fed audiences with delectable glamour.

Michael’s life was riddled with controversy. He came out publicly as gay in 1998, shortly after his mother’s death devastated him a year prior.  The revelation came when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a public toilet. By Michael’s own admission, keeping his homosexuality private had taken a serious toll on his mental health and he conjectured that this arrest might have been a subconscious way of forcing him to come out. Several other run ins with the law like crashing his car into a shop near his home threatened to tarnish his reputation, but he always bounced back.

People close to him, like Elton John, tried to help him with his drug addiction, but Michael was not ready to face his demons. Eventually, according to a former boyfriend, his body just gave up.

#HotDateBrainFact: Did you know that alcohol and drug addiction can damage brain circuits that give us insight and self-awareness? That’s why people may not realize they’re in trouble. Together with this, the brain switches from “control over use” to “automatic using behaviors”. But recent research has proven that you can retrain your brain to regain control. It’s not a done deal.