Mental illness doesn’t discriminate – anyone can be affected.
There are a few celebrities who stand out for me, either they’re my favourite actors or they are an influence based on how they live with their mental illness.
Gillian Anderson is best known with her role as Agent Scully on X-Files. What you may not know about Gillian is she’s been in therapy since 14 for her anxiety. She also copes with dyslexia (difficulties remembering things), low self-esteem and body issues. Her anxiety had gotten so bad she couldn’t leave her house, on many occasions. Gillian find writing a gratitude list every day help settle herself down. Meditations helps her concentrate on good thoughts. She also writes messages to herself on Post-It Notes and sticks them around the house. Gillian noted “I think, had I not found tools to help me out of that pain, or to show me that there were people out there who were on a similar journey, the combination of those two things most certainly have contributed to me still being on the planet.” Gillian wants women to feel that they are not alone. Getting honest is really important.
Ryan Philippe is best known in Cruel Intentions and his lead role in the TV series Shooter. Ryan has recently opened up about living with depression, since childhood. Throughout his life he’s found ways that are easier for him to cope, especially by doing his research on depression. He finds by giving back and sharing whatever he can, helps decrease his depression. His important note “There is a sensitivity that will never change and an empathy that will never change but how you deal with those feelings and where you let them take you, that’s an individualistic journey for anyone who struggles”.
Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which resulted from being raped at 19. The true effects didn’t hit her until 5 years later. She found the help from doctors, family and friends helped her greatly. Lady Gaga and her mother founded Born This Way Foundation to help those realize they’re not alone and they’re loved. Lady Gage finds meditation and mantra helps keep her relaxed. She notes “My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others”.
J.K. Rowling, known for her book series Harry Potter, lived with depression and suicidal thoughts after the breakup of her marriage. She found it very difficult dealing with the breakup, being homeless, caring for her daughter on her own and the worldwide attention of her first book. Thoughts of her daughter made her get help. After 9 months of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) she overcame her depression and suicidal thoughts. She states “It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I knew sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling, that really hollowed-out feeling”. J.K. Rowling speaks out now to fight the stigma associated with mental illness.
Wayne Brady, known as host for Don’t Forget the Lyrics and Let’s Make a Deal, recently opened up about his clinical depression in 2014. It was a battle he dealt with on his own until the death of Robin Williams and his breakdown on his 42nd birthday. He explained during an interview that depression is a vicious cycle, where you tell yourself lies about yourself, a depressed person continually internalizes these thoughts until you actually believe them and diminishes your self worth. Wayne is now speaking out towards mental health and men and spreading the awareness that it’s okay for anyone to talk about their mental health.
Celebrities are just like everyone else, experience the same things, feel the same things. There is a common message that celebrities with mental illness are sharing; it’s okay to speak out, it’s okay to ask for help and you are not alone.
Anita Levesque is a web and graphic designer, a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones; father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD; boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personality disorders. The goal with my website, http://mentalillness-doyouknow.com is to focus on personal experiences rather than articles by doctors and medical professionals who haven’t experienced mental illness. Anita writes articles for several websites on topics such as OCD, Addictions, Suicide, PTSD and more. She resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario and interests are photography, reading, music, learning, spending time with her family.