Mental illnesses touch so many lives. While many people in our society don’t want to admit they have a problem, the troubles they feel are indeed real. Though, with the flash of a smile, most can hide their pain. And many do, refusing to admit to themselves, and to the rest of the world, that they have a problem and need help.
Celebrities do the same thing. We are all human, and it hurts us to expose our perceived “weaknesses” to others. Imagine telling your mom you suffer from depression. Now, enlarge this to millions and millions of people, and you get an idea of how hard it is for celebrities to talk about their issues. Add in the stigma that still surrounds issues like mental illness and you have a situation that can be terribly difficult to navigate.
Listed below are the 15 celebrities you may not know once suffered, or still suffer from a mental illness of some kind. Some of the celebrities on this list may surprise you, but just remember: We all go through hard times. Some of us just choose to hide it better than others.
15. Chris Brown — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Disorder
Rapper Chris Brown has made headlines in recent years – and not in a good way. Instead of discussing his successful music career, newspapers can only report the acts of violence Chris tends to dish out. His most famous incident includes beating up singer Rihanna. However, this may all stem from a couple of disorders Brown suffers from. Chris was diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Rehab and jail have been Chris’s best friend, as he has gone in and out of both types of facilities multiple times. Many may hate Brown for his actions, but “being evil” and “a terrible person” may not necessarily be the answer when talking about Brown’s motives.
14. Margot Kidder — Bipolar Disorder, Depression
Once a queen of the screen in the Superman movies, Kidder‘s personal life wasn’t so beautiful. For a long while, she battled bipolar disorder and bouts of depression. While many can suffer from various forms of depression and bipolar disorder, Kidder’s combination of illnesses led to a manic episode in 1996. Margot was wandering the streets of Los Angeles, completely oblivious to where she was and what she was doing. Nowadays, she says she’s doing great and hasn’t had a manic episode since the infamous 1996 incident.
13. Drew Carey — Depression
Depression reportedly affects one out of every ten people in the United States. Celebrities are no exception…even comedians. In 2007, former sitcom star and current Price is Right hose Drew Carey opened up in an interview about his bouts with depression throughout his life. After attempting to kill himself at the tender age of 18, Drew joined the Marines in an effort to get his life straightened out. Though he still suffered from depression when he got out of the military, Carey had gained the confidence to actually believe in himself. He credits self-help books with saving his life and sustaining his confidence.
12. Diana, Princess of Wales — Depression, Bulimia
A bevy of controversy surrounds all aspects of Princess Diana‘s life. From her personal relationships to her untimely death, many tend to speculate on how Diana coped with the stresses and tribulations she faced on a daily basis. An autobiographer, Penny Junor, has written a book chronicling Diana’s life and exposes the idea that Diana suffered from both depression and bulimia. The depression may not seem as surprising as the bulimia, mainly because of the squeaky clean image Diana possessed.
11. Mel Gibson — Bipolar Disorder
Mel Gibson‘s career is really a tale of two halves. The first half of his career leads up to his infamous racial slurs. The other half is post-racial slur. After the racial slur incident, he had several publicized incidents when he would “blow up” at reporters and almost turn into a completely different person. With Gibson expressing symptoms such as aggressive behavior and agitation, he is a classic example of a person with bipolar disorder.
10. J.K. Rowling — Depression
Yes, it may seem surprising, but the woman best known for introducing readers to the wizarding world of Harry Potter suffered multiple bouts of depression throughout her life. One of the first rounds of depression came after her relationship with her first husband didn’t work out. When she began writing the Harry Potter novels, Rowling says she woke up every morning expecting to find her baby girl dead. She felt something terrible was going to happen to her, since nothing had gone right in her life up to that point. Using this depressive state to her advantage, Harry Potter began to formulate and Rowling would go on to create one of the most popular book franchises of all time.
9. Jean-Claude Van Damme — Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder
Action star Jean-Claude Van Damme wowed audiences in 1988’s Bloodsport and churned out a number of other action movies in the 1990s. Known for his excellent martial arts skills, Van Damme could beat up anyone. Even himself. When Jean-Claude wouldn’t train for a couple of days, he would start to feel angry and lowly. In 1993, he began using cocaine. Spiraling out of control, Van Damme sought help in the mid-90s. He only lasted one week in rehab before leaving the treatment facility. Eventually, Jean-Claude let the doctors take care of him and he was officially diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder. The “rapid cycling” portion of the diagnosis means having four or more episodes per year.
8. Kurt Cobain — Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Bipolar Disorder
A tragic death. A storm of controversy. Music that will live on forever. Kurt Cobain‘s death in 1994 shocked the world. Once questions began to arise about his passing, various stories about Kurt’s tortured personal life began to come forth. While it was pretty well known that Cobain suffered from general depression, it may come as a surprise to learn he also had ADD and Bipolar Disorder. Like so many people on this list, bipolar disorder is often linked to creative pursuits. Perhaps Cobain’s disorder did just this, spurning on his creative side to produce a large amount of music. Kurt was also diagnosed with ADD, which at the time was not as widely diagnosed as it is today.
7. Elton John — Bulimia
Achieving celebrity status brings with it a host of choices. Namely, the world of drugs and alcohol opens up to you. However, Elton John had another issue besides these two. He was concerned with his weight, so he began to binge eat. Once he would consume a ridiculous amount of food, he would vomit it back up. Bulimia is a serious issue, affecting way too many people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a superstar or not, bulimia and body image issues are a major concern. Even in the mid 1970s, Elton was not happy with his body image. Maybe that’s why he wore the elaborate stage costumes.
6. Winona Ryder — Anxiety, Depression
Growing up on screen is a tough task to tackle. Many childhood stars quickly find their lives spinning out of control. Though Ryder didn’t fall into the world of drugs and alcohol, she did fall into one with consequences just as hurtful. At the age of 12, Ryder began to experience anxiety attacks. As she kept taking film roles, the anxiety and pressure of the film business kept picking away at her personality. In 1999, she starred in Girl, Interrupted, which was a difficult job for Ryder to take. She said the character in the movie resembled her early life so much that she would experience real panic attacks during certain scenes. To take care of herself, Ryder has stepped away from Hollywood.
5. Jim Carrey — Depression, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Carrey has described his own life as having “peaks and valleys.” He said this while giving an interview in which he talked about his depression and how he overcame it. It may be surprising to many that such a funny guy could be suffering so much on the inside. Along with depression, Jim was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. As with many examples on this list, depression rarely exists on its own. Rather, depression seems to accompany other illnesses and issues. Jim has accepted his problems and lives life to the fullest. He now has accepted life for what it is and couldn’t be happier.
4. John Nash — Paranoid Schizophrenia
You may not be familiar with who John Nash is, but you may be familiar with his story. Nash’s life was portrayed in the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind. Nash’s story is so special because it shows that even geniuses (much like comedians) can suffer from mental illnesses and bear personal struggles. John was famous for his contributions to mathematics, including his work with game theory and differential geometry. His life was turned upside down when he began to exhibit signs of a mental illness. Following an odd episode at a lecture he was giving, Nash was officially diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The odd things he would see and the outlandish conspiracies he believed were being carried out were subject matter for the Hollywood adaptation of his life.
3. Marlon Brando — Depression
Legend. The term is overused, but not so when speaking of Marlon Brando. His presence on the silver screen is tangible and he oozed a strange magnetism no one could ignore. As a handful of Brando’s movies are considered classics, his off-screen life was even more of a storm than his on-set antics. It is widely reported that Marlon suffered from depression throughout his life. This may explain some of the incidents film crews had with him and why he was so difficult to work with. Brando’s depression couldn’t have gotten any better after his daughter’s half-brother was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. He shot her boyfriend in a drunken stupor.
2. Howard Hughes — Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
A tale of two lives is the best way to describe Howard Hughes‘ existence on this Earth. The first half was filled with the business tycoon expanding his empire, including forays into movies and aviation. Hughes proved immensely popular, achieving celebrity status due to his charming personality and insatiable drive to expand his businesses. Then, it all came crashing down. Hughes began to develop OCD, which at the time wasn’t understood. The OCD became so bad that Howard shut himself off from the rest of the world. He became a recluse, not leaving his hotel room for months on end. The OCD may have been caused or propagated by two near-fatal crashes he was involved in.
1. DMX — Bipolar Disorder
Once on top of the hip-hop world, rapper DMX was churning out hit after hit. He was making tons of money and even starring in movies. However, DMX’s personal life has been a whirlwind of struggle and pain. Little known to most, the musician suffers from bipolar disorder. In the late 2000s, DMX opened up about his personal struggles and his fight with a personality disorder. He claims it’s difficult to separate Earl Simmons from DMX. The media portrays him in one light, and his real personality is completely different. With bipolar disorder, he has trouble distinguishing between the two identities. He has since put his faith in God, hoping to learn from his troubles and pave the way for a bright future.