In an exclusive cover story interview with People, Perry said the memoir was “[full] of hope.” But neither does he shy away from the hard periods of his life, which include multiple gastrointestinal surgeries, 15 visits to a rehabilitation center, and a complicated relationship with sobriety. The memoir even opens with a heavy disclosure: at 49, Perry nearly died.
Now 53, Perry told People he experienced a gastrointestinal perforation — a serious medical condition that describes a hole in the gastrointestinal tract — as well as a burst colon resulting from opioid use. After two weeks in a coma and months in the hospital, Perry recovered, but initially, the “doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live . . . I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.” The experience left Perry feeling “grateful to be alive,” per People.
Perry says his addiction issues started surfacing while working on the set of the hit sitcom “Friends.” He joined the show at age 24 and by 34, he was in “a lot of trouble” with alcohol and would eventually begin using pills as well.
With the memoir, Perry wanted to share his story to help others who may be dealing with the disease of addiction firsthand. “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again,” he tells PEOPLE. “I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.”
The writing experience — though it can be intimidating to share your life so publicly — has shown Perry his own strength.
“What I’m most surprised with is my resilience,” he tells People. “The way that I can bounce back from all of this torture and awfulness. Wanting to tell the story, even though it’s a little scary to tell all your secrets in a book, I didn’t leave anything out. Everything’s in there.”
If you or someone you know is in need of substance-related treatment or counseling, you can reach the Substance and Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on its Treatment Referral Routing Service helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).