Sinead O’Connor Talks Public Breakdown, Dr. Phil

By Maggie Ethridge 07/12/19

O'Connor says she's bringing charges against the rehab facility that Dr. Phil sent her to because of the "trauma" she reportedly experienced.

Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor was once known only for her singular, powerful voice. These days, she’s also known for battles with mental health, which often went down in public.

Giving a lengthy interview with the Irish Independent, Sinead looked back at her suffering with a dark sense of humor, anger and compassion.

"There is a Muddy Waters song that goes, 'If I don't go crazy I think I'll lose my mind'—it was a bit like that. Throughout it all, it wasn't that I was chemically crazy, I was crazy because of the situation and the things that were going on, which I can't go into. I had chronic endometriosis and had a hysterectomy which I reacted very badly to. They took out my ovaries, which sent me into surgical menopause, which made me mental. I only had paracetamol to get me through it, and I lost my fucking marbles. I was behaving like such a monster that nobody wanted anything to do with me, and so I fucked off to America."

Sinead's behavior came to the attention of Dr. Phil, who reached out to Sinead, doing an interview with her and placing her in a mental health facility.

On his show, she spoke about her bipolar disorder diagnosis and the emotional and physical abuse she suffered from her mother. Sinead says that going on the show was a decision made out of desperation.

The Dr. Phil Show

"Dr Phil is on the phone and you sort of feel like Cinderella—to begin with," she explains. "When you are desperate, like I was, you will reach out to anyone. He went on Jimmy Fallon afterwards and he said I contacted him, but that's not true. He tracked me down after I put that notorious video on Facebook.

"After the interview, I never saw him again and I am bringing proceedings against the facility he sent me to, from the trauma I went through there. He was like the Wizard of Oz. He said to me; 'I never fail,' and I was like, 'You are gonna fail.'"

After failing to get the treatment she needed in the United States, Sinead returned to Ireland and St. Patrick's Hospital in Dublin. It was there that she was able to begin to cope with her past.

"There is no fixing it, but you learn to live with it. I can, however, update myself and how I treat people. I'm not different from someone dealing with physical pain. The doctors taught me how to live with it and then add in other things. I just have to accept that sometimes I'll feel like shit, or maybe even suicidal for a minute or two, but I know that impulse is bullshit."

Moment Of Reflection

Looking back over her years of struggle, Sinead told the Independent, “In public or in private, there are things I regret saying. I regret that it became necessary to communicate the way I did, and that there was a war, and that in the war I became a terrorist. But you have to understand someone only becomes a terrorist when all else has failed. But good wins in the end—in the family, I mean.”

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.