Australian comedian Fiona O’Loughlin was the first person I ever heard talk openly honestly – I mean really honestly – about alcoholism.
I was a teenager watching the Melbourne Comedy Festival on television in my parent’s living room and I knew what it was. I’d been around alcoholics before. But I’d never, ever heard someone speak so candidly about an addiction that’s so difficult to pin down.
It’s a disease that seemingly has no boundaries in who it affects, and – as O’Loughlin was explaining to that Melbourne crowd – starts off disguised as something fun, before turning into something dark without warning.
She spoke about dinner parties and telling funny stories and finally, waking up on the kitchen table. The skit was powerful. Filled with humorous self-awareness and piercing realness. It forged itself in my mind as a warning, and I’ve not forgotten it yet.
Last night, O’Loughlin did a similar thing.
This time she wasn’t talking to a Melbourne crowd, but instead sitting in the jungle with her fellow contestants on Channel 10’s reality TV show I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here.
Speaking on Wednesday night’s episode, she explained that she was originally scheduled to appear on I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here two years ago, had to pull out after “screwing it all up and going on a bender”. Her health was a priority, she wasn’t deemed “mentally stable”, and she had to work through it away from the spotlight.
She drew on her near death experience in 2016 when she fell into a coma from carbon monoxide poisoning and was given a seven per cent chance of survival, the now 54-year-old said she “can never drink again”.