I'm still sad about the death of Dolores O'Riordan, 5 years ago. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Dolores O'Riordan, the talented lead singer of the band The Cranberries, died five years ago Monday, at the far-too-early age of 46.
O'Riordan had been open about her struggles with mental illness, and her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, telling an interviewer a year before she died:
"You can get extremely depressed and dark and lose interest in the things you love to do, then you can get super manic I was at the hypomanic side of the spectrum on-and-off for a long period, but generally you can only last at that end for around three months before you hit rock bottom and go down into depression."
An extremely accomplished musician, O'Riordan and The Cranberries sold more than 40 million records since they formed back in 1990. They're second only to U2 in terms of popularity, among Irish musicians.
Developing their sound and emerging from the small Irish town they grew up in required luck, genius, and diligence. O'Riordan's voice was the band's signature—and, on a personal note, which is probably a big part of why I’m writing about her death five years later, was part of the soundtrack to my life back in the early 1990s.
I suppose they’ve also been on my mind—leading me to check the calendar— because my wife and I binge-watched Derry Girls over the holiday break.
It’s a Northern Irish sitcom about growing up in Derry in the 1990s that aired in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 and is now streaming on Netflix. I find it hilarious, although my opinion might be related to the fact that I remember the era (1990s) as if it were … well not yesterday, maybe the day before yesterday.
Anyway, it seemed like the writer-creator, Lisa McGee, must have gotten a discount to license the songs of The Cranberries, since their music comes up so often.
Without diving deeper into O’Riordan’s personal tragedy than I have already, it's seemingly a sad and common story. So many of the people who change the world, whether through music, the arts, political leadership and even entrepreneurship, battle the same kinds of demons.
And so many great, creative artists and innovators battled depression and self-destruction—and in some cases, even suicide.
Psychology professor Michael Freeman at UCSF theorizes that at least 1 in 3 successful entrepreneurs suffers from some kind of mental illness (versus about 1 in 5 among the general population, according to other studies).
Depression and bipolar disorder seem to come up most often among highly successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and creators—either diagnosed or merely speculated about. It seems to go hand-in-hand with creative genius.
Sir Winston Churchill called his depression the "Black Dogs," and he battled it even while leading the fight against Nazi Germany. Elon Musk acknowledged that "maybe" he's bipolar, although he hasn't been diagnosed.
David Foster Wallace. Kurt Cobain. Venture capitalist and writer Brad Feld broached the subject a few years ago of how many entrepreneurs battle depression and suicidal ideation, or worse.
I don't know which comes first, of course:
Whether people who may have periods of mania are more likely to become artists, entrepreneurs, and other leaders—or
Whether for some people, living an exceptional life makes them more susceptible to battling these kinds of demons.
We tend to think it's the former, but I'm not sure.
You likely know many accomplished people, and perhaps are one yourself. How many would admit, at times, that it would be easier to live a normal, or average life? Yet for many people, it’s not really an option.
It's all part of the price of success, for some. Or maybe it's the price of admission. The highs don't come without the lows.
If there's any silver lining, it's that battling depression and other forms of mental illness carries with it a lot less stigma than it did even just a few years ago. People are more willing to get help to manage it, and to admit that nobody is really equipped to try to win that kind of battle alone.
There’s no great way to end this story, so I’ll leave it the way O'Riordan did—with what people later realized was the final song, of the final show she and her band performed, in London about seven months before her death.
7 other things worth knowing today
House members can claim reimbursement for lodging, meals and incidentals this year, a major change for lawmakers who have struggled to keep a residence both in their district and in Washington, according to Bloomberg. (Bloomberg)
The Attorney General named former U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur as a special counsel in the Biden classified documents matter. Hur, who has been appointed by former President Donald Trump as U.S. Attorney, is currently a litigation partner at a Washington, D.C. law firm. (ABC News)
After receiving "thousands" of complaints, the U.S. government says it's giving Southwest Airlines 60 days to respond to customer requests for refunds and compensation after the airline's days-long holiday travel meltdown. (CNN)
Disney employees must return to the office at least four days a week, CEO Bob Iger said in a company-wide email this week. "In a creative business like ours," he wrote to employees, "nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that comes from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors." (NPR)
I'm 21 and live in a 72-square-foot NYC apartment that costs $1,345 a month. Here's what a day in my life looks like. (Insider)
A 9-year-old budding paleontologist named Molly, made a rare discovery on a trip with her father and sister: a five-inch tooth, as big as her hand, that once belonged to a now-extinct megalodon shark that lived millions of years ago. (WashPost)
A group of Americans who broke into and climbed the Merdeka 118, the world’s second tallest building located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, have reportedly been arrested and charged. U.S. Army Special Forces veteran-turned-urban explorer Isaac Wright uploaded a video of their ascent to his YouTube channel on Dec. 30, 2022. (Yahoo News, YouTube)
Thanks for reading. I wrote about O’Riordan on Inc.com when she passed in 2017. See you in the comments.
I can’t say I’m a genius, but I am a successful entrepreneur and my early days working for others did bring on some major depression and anxiety. But once I was on my own, that all basically went away. Was it age? Meditation? Or just not having someone make me do things that didn’t make any sense? Who knows, but I’d rather have the last half of my life happy and context.
This subject really hits home with me. Great topic Bill. I think about it often these days. I struggled with anxiety most of my adult life (48yo) and although I didn't know it, depression as well. I am a successful entrepreneur and I believe that in some small part the anxiety and depression played a part. But I was never overly creative. I will skip all of the details as it is a long story, but I saw a psychiatrist (I had been going to therapy for around 10 years at the time and love it), got prescribed an antidepressant and after about 3 months I realized that my whole life I had been depressed but I didn't know because it had always been there. Now my creative side has blossomed, and I believe that I can achieve more than I ever have, sort of like I was just getting started before. Once the medicine started working, all of my therapy work came shining through like it had been downloaded to my mind. So, was I successful, in large part, because of mental health problems or were they holding me back and the success to come will be even bigger? Time will tell and it will be a fun ride either way!