Just Like Us! Celebs Are Mentally Ill, Too
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

Just Like Us! Celebs Are Mentally Ill, Too


This post was originally published on April 6, 2015.

Whether you fight panic attacks that spike your heart rate to 200 beats per minute or deal with depression that makes you feel like you’re walking through mascarpone cheese when you take the dog out for a stroll, mental illness sucks. It sucks for sufferers and it sucks for sufferers’ loved ones. It sucks for sufferers’ superiors and subordinates and the people they encounter in line at the grocery store or on the road during rush hour.

Compounding the pain of mental illness is the unwarranted stigma it bears. It’s ludicrous, given mental illness has biological roots just like any other disease. But sufferers often feel embarrassed and ostracized, and to counter this celebrities are going on record to educate the public and advocate for tolerance.

Beyoncé’s Break Up

The Huffington Post just published a story highlighting nine quotes by celebrities about mental illness, each of them touching on their personal experience with the disease. Here are some of the juicy ones:

Beyoncé struggled with depression after the break up of Destiny’s Child. She reflects back on this time in her life, saying, “Now that I was famous, I was afraid I’d never find somebody again to love me for me. I was afraid of making new friends. Then one day my mom said, ‘Why do you think a person wouldn’t love you? Don’t you know how smart and sweet and beautiful you are?’ That’s when I decided I only have two choices: I can give up, or I can go on.”

Singer, songwriter and actor Demi Lovato has been refreshingly candid about her struggle with bipolar disorder and depression. She’s even gotten involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “It’s my mission to share this with the world and to let them know that there is life on the other side of those dark times that seem so hopeless and helpless,” she explains. “I want to show the world that there is life—surprising, wonderful and unexpected life after diagnosis.”

Lady Gaga Not Gaga

Perhaps there’s an explanation for why Lady Gaga sometimes feels propelled to smash vodka bottles over her piano. The singer-songwriter has been plagued with more than just a bad case of the blues, and she’s certain that hanging in there until the low mood passes makes her stronger. “I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me,” she says. “You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that’s left. I’m lucky I found one little glimmer stored away.”

It’s not only celebrities who are talking about their personal experiences with mental illness. Anne Betton, an English photographer, has completed a intimate series of portraits that capture the humanity of mentally ill people. She was herself diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009 and wants people to understand that those who struggle with mental illness don’t have to define themselves by their brain disorders—schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder are just a small aspect of their entire personality.

A Shameful Lack of Funding

The HuffPo article argues that society sweeps the problem of mental health under the rug. But that’s too simplistic a view.

Conversations about mental illness have proliferated in the US media in recent years, many sparked by celebrity crack-ups like Britney Spears shaving her hair off or Robin Williams hanging himself in a pit of bipolar depression. And the recent Germanwings airliner disaster in the French Alps has brought a contentious conversation about mental illness to the international round table. But despite all this media chatter, there continues to be a shameful lack of adequate funding for mental illness treatment, housing and other resources in America. Even with Obamacare, behavioral health care remains inaccessible and unaffordable for many insured Americans.

We thank HuffPo for trying to address mental illness stigma, but what’s more necessary at the moment are nuanced conversations and calls to action that address these funding issues, which certainly do get swept under the rug.

Now, if these actors and musicians started giving money to NAMI instead of just flapping their lips to bust stigmas, we may see some real change. Imagine the press if Brangelina contributed a few mil to the cause—mental health issues would totally start trending.

Photo courtesy of Liliane Eloise Mainardes from Brasil (Beyonce Live in Rio _ 21) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.