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'I should be dead': Matthew Perry's autobiography reveals his demon of drug abuse

While the sudden demise of the famous actor Matthew Perry has left the whole world shocked, “I should be dead,” is what Perry wrote in the prologue of his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.

Best known for his role as Chandler Bing in the sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Perry dedicated his book to “all the sufferers out there.”

In his prologue, Matthew Perry talks about his time in the sober living house in Southern California which for him was nothing new since he had spent “half of his life in one form or another of treatment centre or sober living house.”

While he was still “struggling to get this monkey” off his back, the actor claimed to have known more about drug addiction and alcoholism that any of the coaches at these facilities.

Perry wrote about how he was scared to live alone because his “crazy brain” would find an excuse to drink and do drugs.

“Put me alone on my couch in front of a TV for the night and I get scared. And that fear is of my own mind; fear of my own thoughts; fear that my mind will urge me to turn to drugs, as it has so many times before. My mind is out to kill me, and I know it. I am constantly filled with a lurking loneliness, a yearning, clinging to the notion that something outside of me will fix me.”

The F.R.I.E.N.D.S star went on to elaborate one of his experiences at the treatment centre when he struggled with so much pain that he had to be driven to the hospital for a an immediate surgery, after which he went into a coma for two weeks in the midst of which he “aspirated into his breathing tube” and vomited inside his lungs, developing a pneumonia after which his colon exploded.

“It was almost certain at that point that I was going to die,” Perry wrote in his book.

While the doctors believed that Perry had only 2 per cent chances of living, he was released from the hospital after what he described as ”five very long months.”

As Perry delved into the first chapter of his memoir, he wrote, “Nobody ever thinks that something really bad is going to happen to them. Until it does. And nobody comes back from a perforated bowel, aspiration pneumonia, and an ECMO machine. Until somebody did. Me…I keep coming back to this singular, inescapable fact: I am alive.”

Perry also wrote that he would often ask himself “why was he alive?”

The actor recalled in his memoir that he had watched his father drink six vodka tonics and live a perfectly functional life, so, he figured it was possible.”

“Alcoholism, addiction—you call it what you want, I’ve chosen to call it a Big Terrible Thing,” Perry had said.

Matthew Perry had also pointed to the readers that the trajectory of his addiction could be tracked season-wise: ”when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills.”

“I was never high while I was working. I loved those people—I wanted to always step up for them, and I was the second baseman for the New York Yankees. But addiction wakes up before you do, and it wants you alone. Alcoholism will win every time. As soon as you raise your hand and say, “I’m having a problem,” alcohol sneers, You’re gonna say something about it? Fine, I’ll go away for a while. But I’ll be back. It never goes away for good.”

(Published 29 October 2023, 12:35 IST)

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