Matthew Perry suffered from many health issues before dying at 54, here's what we know

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Matthew Perry shot to fame after his portrayal of Chandler Bing on the popular sitcom Friends, but his life following the breakout role was marred by several mental issues.

Matthew Perry, best known for his iconic role as Chandler Bing on the beloved sitcom Friends, has passed away at the age of 54. The actor's sudden death has left fans and fellow actors mourning the loss of a talent that brought laughter and joy to millions.

The official Friends Instagram account posted a heartfelt tribute to Perry on Saturday night, expressing their deep sadness and stating, 'We are devastated to learn of Matthew Perry’s passing. He was a true gift to us all.'

Maggie Wheeler, known for her role as Janice, Chandler's on-again, off-again girlfriend on the show, shared her condolences on her Instagram, saying, 'What a loss.'

She went on to add, 'The world will miss you Matthew Perry. The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.'

Selma Blair, another Friends cast member, referred to Perry as her 'oldest boy friend' on her Instagram. She expressed, 'All of us loved Matthew Perry, and I did especially. Every day. I loved him unconditionally. And he me. And I’m broken. Broken hearted. Sweet dreams Matty.'

However, behind the fame and success lay a tumultuous and painful journey, marked by his battles with addiction and health issues.

Matthew Perry's tumultuous life after stardom

Perry's career was illustrious, spanning both film and television. He made a significant mark as Chandler Bing in Friends, and his talents graced projects like 17 Again, Fools Rush In, The Odd Couple, and The Whole Nine Yards. His guest appearances in series such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Growing Pains also left an indelible impression on audiences.

Actor Matthew Perry health issues before death NBC

Perry's struggle with addiction was no secret as his candidness about his health and personal battles set him apart. In his book, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, he documented his tumultuous journey with addiction, which spanned over three decades. It was during the ten-season run of Friends that his alcohol addiction began to take hold, but it was only a matter of time before it spiraled out of control. The actor even said he didn't re-watch the beloved NBC sitcom because it stirs up painful reminders of his struggles with drug and alcohol.

Friends is a beloved American sitcom that follows the lives of six friends living in New York City. The show primarily revolves around their personal and professional adventures, romantic relationships, and hilarious misadventures. The core cast members include Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller. The series, which ran for ten seasons from 1994 to 2004, is the springboard for Matthew Perry's acting career.

A handful of near-death experience

At one point, Perry's weight had plummeted to a mere 128 pounds, and he was consuming over 50 Vicodin pills daily, as per The Telegraph. His fight against addiction took him to rehab more than a dozen times and led to at least 14 surgeries. His life hung by a thread, with doctors giving him a mere 2% chance of survival. He vividly recalled the moment when he came close to losing his life, saying, 'That’s the time I really came close to my life ending.'

The financial cost of Perry's struggle was also staggering. He revealed in his book that he spent over $7 million on his journey to sobriety, which included 15 trips to rehab. However, in an interview with the New York Times, he admitted the actual figure was closer to $9 million.

One poignant anecdote from Perry's book revealed the depths of his struggle. While Friends was at its peak, he found himself living in a rehab facility during the filming of Chandler and Monica's wedding scene. The stark contrast between his on-screen success and off-screen battle was a heart-wrenching illustration of the challenges he faced.

Actor Matthew Perry health issues before death Michael S. Schwartz

Perry's struggles extended beyond addiction. In 2019, his colon burst due to opioid overuse, leading to emergency surgery and a 2% chance of surviving the night, as per Hollywood Life. Perry fell into a coma for two weeks, followed by a five-month hospitalization and the use of a colostomy bag. The actor had to confront the harsh reality that he had caused this suffering to himself.

Another near-death experience occurred when he was in a rehab facility in Switzerland, taking hydrocodone before a surgery. He was treated with propofol, the same drug that led to Michael Jackson's demise. Perry recalled that his heart stopped for five minutes during the ordeal, leaving him in a different hospital upon awakening.

Despite these harrowing experiences, Perry's therapist played a pivotal role in his journey to recovery. His therapist used a unique approach, telling him to associate drugs with a life marked by a colostomy bag. This seemingly unconventional method proved effective, and Perry declared that he no longer had any interest in taking drugs. He wrote in his book:

'I have not been interested in taking a drug since. I’ve surrendered, but to the winning side, not the losing. I’m not longer mired in an impossible battle with drugs and alcohol. I no longer feel the need to automatically light up a cigarette to go with my morning coffee.'

If you or your loved ones are struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available. Call SOS Silence of Suicide on 0300 1020 505 or text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to reach Shout Crisis Text Line.

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© Steven Vlasic

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