Huey Lewis was suicidal after learning he had Meniere’s disease

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This post includes mentions of suicidal ideation
Last year, singer Huey Lewis shared that he had been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. Huey said that after first experiencing symptoms in the spring during a show in Dallas, the disease began to progress. He recently talked in an interview with Whitefish Review, a literary journal based in Montana, about how the diseases has affected his life, and that he contemplated suicide:

“This [his diagnosis] has ruined everything. This has absolutely ruined everything,” Lewis, 69, told the Review. “I try not to let it get me down.”

“In the first two months of this, I was suicidal,” he admitted. “I can honestly share that with you. I thought, s—, I’m just going to commit suicide. I actually contemplated my demise. You know, like pills. I figured pills were the easiest way to go. I mean, would I have? I don’t know.” . . .

“This is now a year and eight months, and it’s awful,” Lewis said in the interview. “I can’t hear music. It’s hard enough to hear speech. But music is impossible.”

“The music is cacophony for me and now my hearing fluctuates. I can actually get better sometimes where I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can almost sing.’ And I have sung twice in the last two years when my hearing was better. And I sang one song acoustically. But I couldn’t do it for a set,” he added.

[From People]

Huey said that getting letters from fans has really helped, in the wake of his diagnosis and needing to step away from performing. “The support I get from people, ordinary people, is amazing.”. Huey Lewis and the News will release Weather on Feb. 14, 2020. The album was mostly recorded before Huey’s diagnosis. The first single, “While We’re Young,” is out now.

This is so sad. I grew up in the ’80s, and you couldn’t turn on the radio for 15 minutes in the car and not hear Huey Lewis and the News. (Most likely”The Power of Love” was playing.) I’m glad that Huey has times when his disease is less severe. Still, I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to do something that you love and is how you make your livelihood. I have tinnitus that comes and goes, and most of the time, fortunately, it isn’t terrible, but there are nights when I’ve cried myself to sleep because the ringing is so loud I can’t ignore it. I empathize so much with Huey, and I’m glad that contact with his fans helps. I hope the album release is a great start to 2020!

If you are in the United States and are in crisis and in immediate need of assistance, text HOME to 741741 for confidential assistance 24/7 (http://www.crisistextline.org). You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).
In Canada, text HOME to 686868 (Crisis Text Line).
In the United Kingdom, call Samaritans, 116 123 (free)
(http://www.samaritans.org).

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29 Responses to “Huey Lewis was suicidal after learning he had Meniere’s disease”

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  1. Elena says:

    After my son’s emergency c section I developed hypertension and vertigo. They worked me up for Menieres before ruling it out. It is awful as he says. My ears rang, I felt off balance all of the time and your head swims. Daily activities are impossible. I couldn’t drive, walk or even just look after my family for a month. As a musician I am sure he’s devestated. Best wishes for him and hope for treatment, but there is no cure.

  2. sue denim says:

    I have tinnitus too… Meditation helps a lot, not to lower the noise but to stay calm… Actually I often listen to guided meditations while I fall asleep too, which distracts in a peaceful way from the ringing…

    • Sunnydaze says:

      I’m so glad that works for you! The thing with menieres is that whatever people think tinnitus is, this is so so so much worse – tinnitus is a general term that has a very large scale. It’s not something you can drown out, it’s something that can quite literally drive you crazy, that you can’t hear over, that can send you into panic. I remember clawing clumps of my hair and screaming over it on more than one occasion because I was so desperate for it to stop, and for me it would often come out of nowhere. With menieres, I can absolutely understand how desperation could turn into suicidal thoughts.

  3. Astrid says:

    This makes me sad. His songs are the fabric of my 80′s experience. I saw Huey perform a few years ago as part of my Bachelorette Party

  4. M says:

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s last year and it’s pretty terrible. The tinnitus is mental, it never stops, and the fluctuating hearing loss is so confusing for other people – I’m only thirty so people don’t understand why I can’t hear them but I’m not “deaf deaf.” The disease tends to burn itself out after 3-5 years however so I hope he is closer to the 3 year side of things.

    • Isabelle says:

      I’ve had Menieres disease since I was a around 4 years old . A side effect of measles after I was in contact with a non-vaccinated child as an infant. You can live with it successfully, it doesn’t ruin your life physically more mentally as it can drive you crazy sometimes. You have to adapt around it. Diet and avoiding triggers helps. it comes and goes and never really goes away unless it is temporary damage.

    • Sunnydaze says:

      Omg I had this for such a long time ….was on disability, had the Tumarken crises and everything. I advocated for having my nerve clipped, surely the deafness would have been preferable to the tinnitus that left me clawing out clumps of hair….I remember I would have a T crisis which so many people thought was a seizure if you didn’t know what was going on and sleep for 12 hrs. My family had their response down to a science to pick me up….omg I haven’t thought about this in so so long…..I responded remarkably well to several rounds of gentimicin injections and got my life back….sending do much love to people who struggle with this!!!

  5. stormsmama says:

    This broke my heart the first moment i heard about him-
    my brother has menieres and I have had some vertigo (tho i was pregnant at the time)
    Here are some things my brother did that have completely changed his relationship with his menderes:
    he went vegan
    he cut back on salt
    After the doctors told him there’s nothing they could do,
    those two things changed his whole life. within 3 months the ringing was manageable. My brother flies all the time for work, so this was big for him.

    Ok and with my experience, my vertigo was so bad but the first few times it happened i was pregnant and then it went away. Last year i had a horrifying 5 day spell of it! It turned out I was pregnant- i have mentioned here before that I miscarried in march and almost died from bleeding out but i digress-
    After that 5 days I gave up caffeine- which I noticed triggered the ringing
    I also now have given up alcohol, try to eat less meat-
    though recently Ive dipped into caffeine again and sugar a bit more and Ive been sick and stuffy bc of it and my ears are getting wonky
    The thing with vertigo is it feels like a wave is pulling you one way, and yet the world is spinning the other way. It is unbearable.
    Menieres is different but similar- my brother noticed tho that salt and dairy and meat were triggering LOUD ringing

    I want to hug Huey. I love him so much. Anyone remember Robert Altman’s Short Cuts? Remember Lily Tomlin and Huey? Ive never stopped loving his voice. Remember Duets? He and Goopy sing Cruisin. (as an aside Paul G singing Hello Its Me is my heart)
    My heart breaks for him

    • Shirleygailgal says:

      Duets is a super movie and sound track. I’m so sad for him, but love the tips you all have been offering. I’m sorry you’ve had such a difficult time, your description about being pulled under caught my heart (I have a fear of drowning..a story for another day). I want to hug both you and Huey….

  6. genmasho says:

    My dad has Ménière’s. The vertigo is no joke and totally wrecks your quality of life. It was heartbreaking watching him go through it. What has made his symptoms manageable is to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, plus eat a very low-salt diet. The low salt diet was in my opinion the key solution and was recommended by his doctors.

    His descriptions of his ear doctor visits are pretty funny though. He’s gotten his “crystals” (google ‘ear crystals,’ fascinating stuff) rearranged a few times to try and help with his symptoms as well. They basically shake your head really hard to get those pesky crystals back into place.

    • Antonym says:

      Are they actually shaking his head really hard? They shouldn’t be. There are very gentle (physically) exercises to realign the crystals. The exercises initially cause more vertigo but when you’re done you have some relief (some people need to do the exercises for several days)

  7. lucy2 says:

    I had vertigo as a result of Lyme disease. It SUCKS. I still have the occasional flare up, but it’s lessened quite a bit from the worst of it. I went through a ton of testing, and it was basically determined to be nerve damage, which takes a very long time to heal.
    I hope Huey sees improvement soon, that has to be really difficult and scary, especially for a musician.

  8. Tulip says:

    Hugs to him and others with this. Also, good on Quimby for posting the crisis help information and for more than just one country. People do care, please reach out if you need to.♥️

  9. tmbg says:

    Geez, the astronaut Alan Shepard was grounded because of this disease. They did some kind of tube implant on him and he went on to walk on the moon. I hope they can figure something out for Huey. 🙁

  10. JBee says:

    I’ve had/have benign positional vertigo. It didn’t affect my hearing but being constantly dizzy and nauseous was a big problem. It’s crazy because they can actually see your eyes moving. I’m sorry for Huey and glad to know that he was well enough to see the love that people have for him.

  11. Stef says:

    This is heartbreaking. I’m a huge Huey fan and it made me sad for him when I first heard about this disease last year.

    Please let us be stuck with you, Huey! So much love for your cool, talented self.

    I’m glad he’s being honest and open about suicidal ideation. It’s more common than a lot of people realize and it’s still wrapped in a shameful stigma. I volunteer as a youth suicide awareness and prevention educator for a crisis centre. It’s both rewarding and heart breaking when I meet teens who are depressed and contemplating suicide.

    Please reach out if you’re struggling! Talking about it helps and people care about you. You’re not an inconvenience, you are loved.

  12. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’m sorry to hear this about Huey. But I’m so, I don’t know, relieved? to hear from all these posters with experiences I’ve largely kept to myself. Last Christmas my family took me to the ER because I lost complete control of balance. I was so scared because my world spun out of control in such a major way. The ringing and general feeling like I was under water simply wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. When the doctor mentioned my ear “crystals,” I thought he was joking. Never heard of the damn things. I deal with what I deal with, but it’s nice to confront it with others who’ve felt the same way.

    • Sunnydaze says:

      You had a Tumarkin crisis :( I would get them all the time at my worst, it’s terrifying. I did really well with gentimicin injections, but remember a Dr telling me about the ear crystals, apparently I did have that done during an er visit I don’t remember, but it didn’t help. I’m so sorry you went through that,I actually wish there was more awareness around menieres and the T crisis – I had to explain to one too many a physician.

    • Vernie says:

      Mabs, you are such a vital part of this online community. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. Sending you good energy and internet hugs.

  13. Charfromdarock says:

    I have vestibular disease (not Menieres), it is life altering yet invisible to the rest of the world.

    I am very lucky that physical rehab worked for me so that I can have some quality of life and a new normal. I’m also lucky that I live in a country (Canada) with a public health care system and I have good employer supplemented insurance.

    Almost everyone I’ve met in support groups and at rehab have struggled with depression and ideation, my heart breaks for Huey and everyone else.

    I don’t know how or why I escaped these past six years without depression, I really don’t. I think it’s just luck.

    Hugs to anyone experiencing this.

  14. CatJ says:

    My dad is gone now, but he was diagnosed with Menieres, while he was still working.
    He had lost his balance and fallen outside a department store, and was so embarrassed because people passing thought he was drunk. My dad, being a stoic Englishman was distressed about that. He was out on medication, but I don’t know what is was.

  15. Tourmaline says:

    Oh how awful. I hope things can get a little better for him! I think it is good when celebrities speak out about struggles with chronic illnesses because it might help others suffering with them feel a bit less alone with it all.

  16. Antonym says:

    I have Meniere’s, tinnitus, and otosclerosis (my ears suck). losing the ability to really enjoy music and play/sing was really rough (and I was never a professional musician) so my heart goes out to Huey.

    For the many people on here that have commented that they deal with one of these conditions: I highly recommend the ReSound Relief app. It’s a free app created to help provide relief for people who are dealing with ringing in their ears. There are premade soundscapes and tons of options to build your own custom soundscapes. Even if you aren’t dealing with these issues you may love the app. The sounds are great and there are meditation and breathing exercise options too.

  17. Chrissy says:

    My cousin just committed suicide two weeks ago. It is hard to fathom. He was not someone who you ever would have thought would. We were close.