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Mental illness is still a hard issue to talk about. Despite repeated campaigns against the stigma attached to it.
Hearing from friends, family, and strangers about their own mental health struggles can help, but sometimes you need to hear from someone you look up to. Celebrities don’t often let you look into their personal lives, but when they do, it can be very powerful.
These 10 celebrities have talked publicly about their struggles with mental health. And their stories can provide some needed inspiration for others dealing with the same issues.
Note: If you feel you can’t cope with your mental health struggles, or you’ve had thoughts of harming yourself, talk to a professional right away. The Get Immediate Help page at mentalhealth.gov is a great resource.
1. Carrie Fisher
Known first and foremost as Star Wars‘ Princess Leia, Fisher’s second-most famous role was as an outspoken advocate for people suffering from mental illness. She struggled with her own bipolar disorder and consequent drug abuse for many years, and her overdose on cocaine and prescription medications resulted in hospitalization.
After realizing that her life was being derailed by her addictions, she started taking back control. She underwent electroconvulsive therapy for her bipolar disorder, something she talks about at length in her memoir Shockaholic. Other stories from her recovery were novelized in Postcards from the Edge and The Best Awful.
Her candid recollections, remarkably open personality, and powerful testimony for the power of getting treatment make her one of the most inspirational celebrities to have spoken about mental illness.
If you’re struggling with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, I highly recommend reading Wishful Drinking. It’s at once hilarious funny and heartbreakingly tragic, and one of my all-time favorite books.
What you can learn: You don’t need to be silent about your struggles. Opening up about mental illness can be a big help.
2. Selena Gomez
Whether you’re a fan of her bubblegum pop or not, it’s hard to not love Selena Gomez for being open about her struggles and striving to take care of herself. In 2014, she discovered that she suffered from lupus. She also found the disorder can have many psychological side effects.
Gomez has taken multiple breaks from her touring career. She has also used her notable Instagram presence to seek treatment for her mental and physical ailments. When she recently returned to the public stage to accept her American Music Award for favorite female pop/rock artist, she gave a moving speech, saying, “I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside… if you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.”
What you can learn: Self-care is extremely important. You never need to be embarrassed about taking time off or stepping away for a moment.
3. Wayne Brady
The stigma around depression affects men and women differently. While some men recognize the importance of talking about it, many still feel it reflects poorly on them. Wayne Brady, despite his on-screen reputation, was one of those men.
Opening up about his struggles with depression, however, brought to light the issues he was dealing with. He took part in the #StrongerThanStigma campaign to help end the stigma around mental illness. In the video above, he shares some of the stereotypical male perceptions of depression in an effort to dispel them.
What you can learn: Men experience mental illness, too. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and seeking help is important for everyone.
4. Bryce Dallas Howard
A significant number — up to 20 percent — of women might experience some form of postpartum depression. Many new mothers get down for a bit after giving birth, but extended forms of more severe depression are also possible.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s honest essay about her own postpartum depression is a great piece of writing. Not just for new mothers, but for anyone dealing with mental health issues.
— Bryce Dallas Howard (@BryceDHoward) January 17, 2017
It emphasizes the importance of being honest, not only with yourself, but with people who are trying to help you. And that admitting your struggles is the first step in getting help. She also shares a recommendation for Brooke Shields’ memoir Down Came the Rain, a very personal look at postpartum depression. Howard’s piece is beautiful and affecting, and will inspire anyone to look ahead to brighter days.
What you can learn: Mental illness can hit during the happiest times of your life. It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong — it just means you’re human.
5. Demi Lovato
In 2010, Lovato entered a rehabilitation facility for treatment related to depression, bulimia, addiction, and self-harm. Since her recovery, she’s been an outspoken advocate for the Be Vocal campaign and started the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program.
Her advocacy has included speeches at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Action Day in 2014.
Lovato’s candor and obvious passion for mental health and advocacy make her an inspiring role model. She’s also been a major presence in anti-bullying campaigns, and has spoken about her own experience with bullying. All in all, she’s one of the most outspoken advocates for mental health services and self-care in the celebrity world.
What you can learn: Mental illness can be a part of who you are. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
6. Jim Carrey
Many celebrities have stories of overcoming or living with depression despite their successful careers, but Carrey is one of the few whose career was launched because of it.
Eradicating depression is so often the goal, but there are many who believe that managing it is nobler goal, as much creativity springs from melancholy. During his childhood, Carrey’s mother became very sick, and he credits his desire to make her feel better with the development of his now-famous sense of humor.
The interview above shows him speaking very candidly about his depression and how he deals with it. He’s no longer taking medications, and his spirituality plays a very important role in his life. This approach certainly isn’t for everyone. But it’s great to see someone who’s taking a different path through treatment.
And while some might find his advice and views less than convincing, his optimism and deep belief in the good inside of everyone is very inspiring.
What you can learn: Even the happiest-seeming people in the world experience depression.
7. Lena Dunham
She’s a polarizing figure, but there’s no doubt that Dunham’s honest accounts of her depression, both in interviews and on screen, have been a positive influence on bringing down the stigma associated with mental illness.
She’s been candid about her own struggles. Spoken out against stereotypes of medicated women. Talked about the importance of exercise in her mental health regimen. It seems like there’s nothing she’s afraid to talk about.
Possibly known more for her outspoken political and sexual views, she is nonetheless one of the most prominent mental illness advocates today. To see her quirky sense of humor, as well as her openness about her struggles, check out the video above. And be prepared for something totally different.
What you can learn: You can draw strength from your mental illness, and find a balance between embracing that side of yourself and keeping it from derailing your life.
8. Lady Gaga
Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, has developed a reputation for mental health advocacy. It wasn’t until December of 2016, though, that she revealed that she suffers from PTSD stemming from a rape at the age of 19.
In an interview about her visit to a homeless LGBT shelter, she told NBC that she hadn’t told anyone about her mental illness before. She also shared her personal meditation mantra: “You are brave, you are courageous.”
Possibly more than anything else, Lady Gaga has emphasized to her fans that remaining centered, engaging in self-care, and being kind to others is the most important part of leading a successful life. And she recognizes the importance of surrounding yourself with positive, caring people, saying that “the kindness that’s shown to me by doctors as well as my family, and my friends, it’s really saved my life.”
What you can learn: Being true to yourself is one of the central keys to success. Your mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
9. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Though she’s admitted she never planned to be so open about it, Zeta-Jones’ struggle with bipolar disorder has been a source of inspiration for many.
It came to light during her husband’s very public battle with cancer, but she later revealed that she’d been dealing with it for many years. The stress related to her husband’s illness had simply served as a trigger.
Showing remarkable clarity, she proactively checked herself into treatment, something she’s done multiple times. She’s also talked about how having a name for her disorder, understanding what’s happening to her, and getting proper pharmaceutical treatment has made a significant difference in her life.
It can be difficult to watch her continuing struggle. But the heart with which she strives for peace is inspiring.
What you can learn: Taking action and seeking treatment is the best thing you can do for yourself.
10. Pete Wentz
The Fallout Boy bassist and lyricist has suffered from depression for many years. Unlike many other men, however, he’s been very open in talking about it.
He’s discussed his history with therapy and medications, his suicide attempt, and getting help. He’s also been a part of the Half of Us campaign to end teen suicide, and continues to speak out for mental health.
Because of the highly public nature of Wentz’s life, his struggle is well known in the music scene. And while it’s difficult to watch anyone go through this, seeing the strength and resolve that Wentz has exhibited is a powerful inspiration for those of us living with depression.
What you can learn: There are many different ways you can deal with mental illness, ranging from therapy to medications to electroconvulsive treatments. Find what works for you.
Share Your Own Inspiring Story With Us
Do you feel inspired by these celebrity stories? Share your own inspirational stories, or others from people you look up to, in the comments below!