10 Celebs Get Real About Living with Mental Illness
By sharing their struggles, these celebs are helping to break the stigma around mental illness.
Celebrities with mental illness
Mental illness does not discriminate. Young, old, rich, poor, black, white – no one is immune. And your favourite musicians and actresses are no exception. In Canada, it’s estimated that over 3 million adults suffer from an anxiety/mood disorder and most of us have been touched by it in some way. But according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 49 percent of people who have felt symptoms of depression and anxiety never seek medical help. Here are the celebs that have sought help for mental illness and chosen to speak out about it.
Demi Lovato has been on a personal mission to speak out about her mental illnesses and nix stigma. She’s been open about her struggles with everything from depression and bipolar disorder (she was diagnosed at 18) to addiction and eating disorders. That open vulnerability is just one of the reasons we’re so sad to hear about her relapse with addition. The 25-year-old was recently rushed to hospital after a reported heroin overdose. Lovato fight sought help for addiction in 2010 and had most recently been sober for six years. Just a few months ago, the singer revealed through her new song Sober that she had relapsed: “Mama, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore / And daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor/ And I’m sorry for the fans I lost who watched me fall again / I wanna be a role model, but I’m only human.”
In early July, TMZ reported that former Destiny’s Child member, Michelle Williams had checked into a mental health facility for depression. Williams later opened up to her fans saying, in a statement: “For years I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it’s time to seek help. I recently listened to the same advice I have given to thousands around the world and sought help from a team of healthcare professionals.”
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The 48-year-old was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2001, which (according to WebMD) is very much like bipolar I with moods cycling from high to low. The main difference between the two is that the highs in bipolar II never quite reach “full-blown mania” as they do with bipolar I. Though the highs are less severe, they can still cause irritability, sleeplessness and hyperactivity.
Carey explains that the diagnosis was difficult initially, and she spent many years living “in denial.” However, she recently sought treatment and is now in a “much better place” – so much so, that she felt comfortable enough to share her struggle with the world.
The star is now on medication and has also found complementary alternative therapies to be quite helpful in managing her mental health. Carey says she’s been “exercising, getting acupuncture, eating healthy, spending quality time with my kids, and doing what I love, which is writing songs and making music.”
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The 25-year-old singer and actress told Harper’s Bazaar about her struggles with depression and anxiety. “I’ve had a lot of issues with depression and anxiety, and I’ve been very vocal about it, but it’s not something I feel I’ll ever overcome,” says Gomez, who is also close friends with Demi Lovato. “There won’t be a day when I’m like, “Here I am in a pretty dress — I won!” I think it’s a battle I’m gonna have to face for the rest of my life, and I’m okay with that because I know that I’m choosing myself over anything else.”
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Chrissy Teigen shed some light on postpartum depression in a personal essay for Glamour. After the birth of her first child, daughter Luna, in April 2016, Teigen says couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong.
“Before the holidays I went to my GP for a physical. John sat next to me. I looked at my doctor, and my eyes welled up because I was so tired of being in pain. Of sleeping on the couch. Of waking up throughout the night. Of throwing up. Of taking things out on the wrong people. Of not enjoying life. Of not seeing my friends. Of not having the energy to take my baby for a stroll. My doctor pulled out a book and started listing symptoms. And I was like, “Yep, yep, yep.” I got my diagnosis: postpartum depression and anxiety. (The anxiety explains some of my physical symptoms.)”
The Stranger Things and Riverdale actress penned a vulnerable piece for Teen Vogue, writing about her battle with OCD and depression. “There was no logical reason for me to feel so worthless. But I did. And I would come to realize that it was because of a combination of mental disorders that had been slowly taking over every facet of my life: depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),” she wrote.
In a 2017 appearance on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, the Oscar-winning actress said she started experience anxiety at seven years old. “At a certain point, I couldn’t go to friends’ houses anymore — I could barely get out the door to school.” Stone used therapy and performing to cope. “I started acting at this youth theater, doing improv and sketch comedy,” she told Colbert. “You have to be present in improv, and that’s the antithesis of anxiety.”
The Oscar winner has spoken out about anxiety triggered by being in the spotlight, saying she has a prescription. (Ask your doctor if a DNA test could help find the best medication for you.) “I find a certain peace by thinking of me in public as sort of an avatar self. You out there can have the avatar me. I can keep me,” she told The New York Times. “And I just try to acknowledge that this scrutiny is stressful, and that anyone would find it stressful.”
The Girls star has been vocal about taking medication for her anxiety, OCD and depression — eventually adding exercise into the equation. “To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen,” said Dunham on Instagram. “I’m glad I did. It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain.”
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Katy Perry has been candid about her struggle with depression. “I have had bouts of situational depression and my heart was broken last year,” she told Vogue Australia. “Unknowingly, I put so much validity in the reaction of the public, and the public didn’t react in the way I had expected to… which broke my heart.” The singer attended The Hoffman Institute for personal growth and treatment.
In the past, Perry also opened up about previous suicidal thoughts. “I feel ashamed that I would have those thoughts, feel that low and that depressed,” she told Dr. Siri Singh, host of Viceland’s The Therapist, during an on-air therapy session.
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