Avicii’s diaries detail his mental health issues
Avicii, born Tim Bergling, was a popular DJ, songwriter and producer from Sweden. With charts topping songs like “Levels” and “Wake Me Up”, Avicii’s music redefined the genre. Despite Avicii’s rapid success, the artist’s lifelong struggles with anxiety and addiction led to his death by suicide in 2018.
A recently published biography, written by Mans Mosesson, details how mental health issues and addiction were present in the life of the Grammy-nominated musician. For Moseson Tim – The official biography of Avicii, the author had access to Avicii’s personal diaries. These diary entries reveal how much the DJ struggled in the years leading up to his death.
Early substance use and Avicii dissociation
Avicii was in high school when he first smoked marijuana. This experience caused an episode of paranoia for Bergling which resulted in feelings of derealization. He began to no longer feel connected to the world around him. In this state, Avicii confessed to his substance use to his parents and expressed concern that the marijuana had triggered psychosis. They took him to a child psychologist who allayed their concerns.
What Avicii probably went through after using marijuana for the first time was a period of dissociation. It can be defined as a disconnection between a person’s memories, feelings, behaviors, perceptions or sense of self. Although dissociation is often benign, it can also develop into a disorder that can interfere with an individual’s daily life. Studies have shown that derealization can occur after an individual has consumed marijuana, not as a cause of use, but rather can be triggered by the substance. These sensations may appear after first use or after prolonged and repeated use.
Lifelong struggles with anxiety
Dissociation can also accompany the majority of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Avicii, who has often been described as a shy person, struggled with both of these conditions throughout his life. As a teenager, he was embarrassed by his appearance, especially his nose and his acne.
The fame, success and lifestyle of DJs only increased Avicii’s anxiety and substance use. Being recognized by fans in public, performance nerves and a grueling touring schedule led him to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
“I feel like I’m going to pass out everyday now. And not just today and this tour, but since the first time I mentioned that I felt exhausted. Quite regularly, but I push it away and choose not to talk about it because there is nothing I can do about it, ”he told his manager in 2011.
Health problems caused by substance use in Avicii
In 2012, at the age of 22, Avicii was admitted to the hospital with extreme abdominal pain. It was determined that he was suffering from acute pancreatitis due to excessive alcohol consumption. Doctors asked her to cure the inflammation in her stomach by avoiding junk food and staying sober for at least 6 months. While in hospital, she was also prescribed the opioid oxycodone to deal with the pain.
Once back on tour, Avicii added the pill to his old habits of unhealthy eating, drinking and not sleeping. In the diary entries featured in Mosesson’s book he wrote: “Of course I haven’t listened to the majority of physicians. I listened to the couple who said it would be nice if I was careful. I was ignorant and naive and circled the world, always on the never ending tour because once you circled it once, guess what? You start over right away.
When the stomach pains returned in 2013, doctors recommended that Avicii have his gallbladder removed. He chose not to have the procedure until he had more free time in his schedule. The following year, his appendix ruptured and his gallbladder was removed. The two hospital stays resulted in the prescription of more pain relievers.
An intervention in Ibiza
After his cycle of hospital visits, those closest to Avicii began to notice that his behavior was changing. He was often irritable and acted erratically. In 2014, his parents tried to help him with his opioid addiction. He resisted their help and flew to Los Angeles where a personal doctor would write him prescriptions whenever he wanted.
After two cases where her stomach was pumped out from a mixture of pills and alcohol, her friends and family arranged for a procedure. This intervention took place in Ibiza where Avicii gave a few shows. He agreed to enter a quiet and expensive treatment program on the Spanish island. It was during this month of intensive inpatient rehabilitation that Avicii realized that her addiction was a coping mechanism for her mental health issues.
“It had to be explained to me in a very logical and cave-like way for me to really understand his nature and how it hurt me. Ouch, the pain. Why am I in pain now? Uncomfortable feeling. The future time deals with the pain. The future handles pain better than the present Tim because there are already too many more urgent present pains to deal with, ”he wrote in his diaries during the Ibiza treatment program.
Avicii’s life after rehabilitation
After his month of rehab was over, Avicii seemed to have a new outlook on life. He meditated regularly, read on the collective subconscious and got himself a puppy. After not performing for a long time, he returned to the stage in 2016 at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. It was announced a few days after this concert that he would no longer perform live. Avicii chose not to gamble so that he could focus on improving his mental health.
Although he appears to have regained stability, Avicii still struggles to cope with his mental health issues. While continuing to suppress the anxiety and depression he frequently experienced, Avicii also began to lose interest in his music career. During this time, he smoked and drank on occasion, which may have led to a resurgence of his feelings of dissociation.
He told Tereza Kacerova, his girlfriend at the time, “What if everyone around me is just a projection in my mind? Sometimes I just think about these things. About the fact that nothing really matters.
Avicii began to focus heavily on meditation, which he found useful in clearing “nonsense” from his mind. He believed that a deep form of meditation taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a way to exercise his brain which he believed would lead to his happiness. Although this form of meditation is usually done in 20 minute increments, Avicii would sometimes spend entire days meditating in an attempt to achieve enlightenment more quickly.
On a trip to Muscat, Oman, one of Avicii’s friends called his father to express his concerns about the DJ’s welfare. The friend described Avicii’s intense meditation and said he refused to eat, speak, or seek shelter from the sun. A day later, on April 20, 2018, Avicii committed suicide. Avicii was 28 years old.
Addiction and suicide
For Americans of all ages, suicide is one of the leading causes of death. Those, like Avicii, who struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD), are at a higher risk of death from suicide. In fact, those who drink a lot are 5 times more likely to kill themselves than those who drink in society. In recent years, suicides linked to opioid addiction have almost doubled.
It is common for people at risk for suicide to struggle with substance abuse and other mental health risk factors such as depression, anxiety, chronic illness and a history of violence. Since drugs and alcohol can worsen these conditions while increasing aggressive behavior and reducing inhibitions, suicidal thoughts can occur.
It is important to be able to recognize changes in behavior that could indicate that a loved one may be suicidal. Behavioral signs include:
- Admit to feeling trapped, hopeless or aimless in life
- Isolate oneself
- Too much sleep or sleep disturbances
- Struggling to control anger
- Hurt yourself physically
A relapse can also be an indicator that a person is having thoughts of suicide.