After divorcing his wife of 22 years in 1996, Tom Petty became clinically depressed in his 40s. “I probably spent a month not getting out of bed, just waking up and going, ‘Oh, f***,’” he told Warren Zanes in his book “Petty: The Biography.” He soon started dating Dana York (pictured), his longtime crush whom he would later marry. But, around the same time, Petty began misusing heroin as a form of self-medication, and soon found that he couldn’t stop.
“You start losing your soul,” he told Zanes of his addiction. “You realize one day, ‘S***, I’ve lost myself.’ … I wanted to quit.” Ashamed, he hid his addiction from everyone in his life, including Dana, for as long as he could. Still, Petty’s colleagues described the recording sessions for what is arguably Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ saddest album, 1999’s “Echo,” as dark, and recall Petty seeming distant and out of character, wearing sunglasses all the time and using a cane to walk.
Luckily, with the support of Dana, friends, and his therapist – who helped him process years of trauma – Petty quit heroin and began working through his issues. “My therapist said something to me that, in that moment, cut through all the clutter: ‘People with your level of depression don’t live. They kill themselves or someone else,’” he told Zanes. “Maybe that was when I realized that in fact I wasn’t living, that I was heading in the other direction.”
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