A friend died last week. My husband and I found out on Friday morning. He apparently died Tuesday night/Wednesday AM in bed and was found Thursday by a neighbor.
He was a closer friend of my husband’s. They’d go bike riding a lot, kart racing. Talk about Porsches (they each have a great love of them and own them) and F1 non-stop. I know my husband is very, very sad. He just spoke with him 2 Fridays ago about doing a car/driving class thing and the new F1 season.
But I always considered him a friend as well. He was always extremely polite. When he’d stay with us in Tahoe he’d send a handwritten thank you note. He was fun to hang out with and talk to about anything. Everyone he met always said he was such a nice guy. You really couldn’t think of a bad thing to say about him. He’d tease me about my love of Star Wars, football and Jack Bauer. But he said he appreciated my great love/passion for these subjects. He agreed with me politically so that was a nice change from a lot of people in the Bay area. It was always fun to discuss politics or world events with him. His take on people and situations would make you laugh out loud whether you agreed with him or not. He called it like he saw it, which is a quality I like in people.
He was a very smart guy – a lawyer, who kept his Bar certificate hanging in his bathroom as a nod to what he thought of it, and he went into investment banking years ago and did very well for himself. Quit it when the big market downturn happened and has been living a seemingly fun and care-free life since. He didn’t have to work thanks to his investment banking days so he got to do what I think most people want to do – fun things every day with very few cares or worries.
He lived in the Marina area of SF. He went for long bike rides all the time. Would pick up and go for bike rides in Oregon or a weekend in Tahoe. He loved sushi more than anyone I’ve ever met. He was always up for whatever fun thing we wanted to do – river rafting, bike riding, etc. He recently joined Facebook so he could update us working stiffs about his daily fun days. All of his friends loved him. He had every reason to live and be happy.
But I guess he also had an addiction to Ambien. Even his closest friends only found out about this a couple weeks ago. But apparently, his girlfriends knew about this. What we’ve learned since his death, in speaking to his former girlfriends, is that he would go through periods of binging on Ambien and then quit cold turkey. He couldn’t sleep and it would drive him over the edge. His latest girlfriend met with us on Friday and said this was the reason she broke up with him in November. She told him “you will die from this unless you get help now.” She went to his family and 2 closest friends a couple weeks ago after receiving a call from him where he sounded high. Apparently, within the last month, he really started a downward spiral or partying and prescription drug use. His 2 friends met with him last week to talk about this. He assured them that he realized how stupid it was and how bad it had gotten and that he was stopping cold turkey.
He also told his closest friend that not only was he quitting it cold turkey he had even stopped drinking any alcohol (and he loved his sake!) to get fully healthy and was excited about a new business venture they were starting. They were supposed to meet Wednesday to get it going.
But then he also had outside bad influences of recently-made “friends” in SF. The ones who make taking drugs and partying completely acceptable and OK. Ones that also took Ambien (it seems to be a huge issue which I find amazing), or smoked a lot of pot (because in the bay area this isn’t a “drug” = losers). Or took who knows what else – all prescription apparently. All doctor Okayed. By multiple doctors. I guess Heath Ledger was not alone in this practice.
He never let his close friends see this side of him. Or his family. We learned that he started taking Ambien when he was in banking as he had to get to work at 4-5am and be asleep by 8 or 9 and this was difficult for him sometimes. And like all drugs, your body gets used to it. So it needs more to work. So he took more. And apparently, when you take enough you get high. And I guess some people like this high. Who knew. I would have assumed you died from too much due to slowing your heart down. Well…I guess that does happen too.
I hate drugs. I hate doctors that will just write prescriptions for people like they are handing out candy. A doctor I had seen for 20 minutes for an annual physical wanted to prescribe something for anxiety when my issue was a physical, heart-related issue. I told her thanks but no thanks you are wrong and never went back. This does not absolve the responsibility of the person taking it. Not at all. But too many people look for answers in magic pills and many doctors are happy to just write that scrip. And then think it’s “safer” than taking illegal narcotics because hey – doctors prescribe them. How bad can they be?
But ultimately, you are responsible for your own condition. For your decisions. No matter what kind of outside influences are around you, you still have to be your own person and be strong. If there are issues that need to be addressed to make you a happier person, do so. Talk to someone. Don’t keep it a secret. Your friends and family love you. They want to help you if they can. If you let them. But getting hooked on anything, being dependent on a chemical (whether street drug or prescription) that you need to take to function – this is not a solution. This is just another problem.
So part of me is angry. Angry at such a stupid waste. In reading all of the updates and notes on Facebook from friends near and far, all of the photos of memories of good times and seeing your smiling face – I have to be angry at such a stupid, selfish waste from such a smart man.
I will miss you my friend. I know all of your other friends will miss you terribly. Your family is distraught. You didn’t give anyone a chance to help you. We wish you would have.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” –Kahlil Gibran