There just seems to be this stigma surrounding mental health issues. Even today, people are still afraid to open that can of worms and discuss mental illness. Yet why does it have to be a can of worms? Why does mental health and the disorders that millions of people in the United States alone suffer from need to be a hush-hush topic? Here is a list of 20 celebrities you didn’t know have mental disabilities.
The hope is that by shedding some more light on famous and successful celebs, we can open up a candid and honest conversation about mental disorders and illnesses. They do not have to be these big scary things that we can only talk about behind closed doors. It does not have to be a means of not mentioning That-Which-Will-Not-Be-Named (by the way, the author of the popular Harry Potter book series is on this list!)
From singers and actors to politicians and athletes, even some of the great world leaders we have ever known have struggled with mental disabilities. As more and more celebrities open up and speak up about this reality, we hope that the general public can shed the stereotypes and hang ups they have about mental health and get with the program.
20 Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm is a cool dude. Yet would you believe that he suffers from depression? Yes, the famed actor and producer has definitely been affected by the onslaught of media attention and pressure that the rich and famous face on a daily basis. Even so, he has still managed to pave a great career for himself, working in acting and producing. He is well known for his work in the hit television show Mad Men, as well as the Minions movie. Who would have thought that he struggles with feelings of worthlessness with all of those easy-breezy characters he plays? Perhaps it is his love for sports and his craft that helps to keep him centered.
19 Catherine Zeta Jones
The beautiful and successful Catherine Zeta Jones is holding in a secret mental illness: she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. The actress has spoken out about the mental illness, and with such a successful person speaking out, it may help others who are suffering with bipolar disorder. She checked into a treatment facility and made headlines once she was released. Six million people suffer from this disorder, so it is not very surprising for her to suffer. Catherine dealt not only with bipolar disorder, but a divorce and court battle. Stress triggers bipolar disorder, and Catherine was very open about the ordeal.
18 Royce White
Royce White is a successful athlete. He has played forward for the Philadelphia 76ers and has also helped out the Houston Rockets. Yet he too suffers from mental illness. It turns out that Royce has obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. That has got to be pretty tough considering he is a professional athlete and is expected to perform to the best of his ability almost all the time! This athlete suffers from panic attacks and gets super nervous, especially when exposed to high levels of stress. Yet with the right treatment, he can make being well a priority, and then his basketball game can follow suit.
17 Winston Churchill
How does one try to lead a nation while struggling with mental illness? Take a look at Winston Churchill. The British prime minister who was the source of so many insightful and wise quotes, struggled with depression, debilitating depression. In fact, the political leader had referred to his mental illness as a “black dog.” While his depression would flare up after certain person tragedies, he also faced the disorder on other occasions, especially since it was coupled with bipolar tendencies. Reports of Churchill’s manic depression have been recorded. He was a fighter in relationships and spent large sums of money on impulse.
16 Princess Diana
Princess Di was such a beautiful sight to behold. It is such a shame that she was hiding so much hurt and pain on the inside. The member of British royalty suffered from bulimia and depression. It actually makes a lot of sense, considering that Diana was expected to be prim and perfect any time she was in public, maybe even in private as well. She had to have the proper look, attire, attitude, behavior, and so on. That is enough stress and anxiety to cripple anyone! Somehow, the princess managed to look on top of things and gracefully elegant whenever we saw her.
15 Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson himself was exposed in a documentary from 2008 in which he discussed his bout with bipolar disorder. With all of the anger and intensity the actor-producer-director displayed, it made sense that he had been diagnosed with a mental illness. His patterns of behavior matched up perfectly with the profile of someone with bipolar disorder. The mental illness is also characterized by manic episodes and fits of rage, as well as skewed sense of reality and a feeling of being exasperated all the time. Unfortunately, Gibson took out some of his pain from the disorder with the use of alcohol, but hopefully he can turn things around and get the adequate treatment he needs.
14 Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is a super-successful Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer. Wow, that is quite an impressive resume. With a huge arm span and feet that look more like they should belong to an aquatic mammal, it makes sense that Michael was always full of energy. The Olympian was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Even so, he has managed to keep his eye on the prize and he won a whopping eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Sure, it takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and motivation. It also helps to have a solid support system, which Michael definitely has in his mother.
13 Britney Spears
If we look back at the past few years, it seemed as though Britney Spears and mental illness perfectly went hand-in-hand. She attacked a car with an umbrella and shaved off all of her hair. Yet it makes sense considering that she was a teen pop idol at such a young age. With all of the people surrounding her and primping her hair, of course she would want to cut it all off! Yet she was also diagnosed with personality disorder, perhaps due to trying to balance her normal life with the Britney Spears that the public knows and adores. It is a lot to take in and it can be so tough to fit yourself into that mold. We’re rooting for you Britney!
12 Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall is another athlete who has opened up and spoken out about his struggles with mental illness. Kudos to him! He suffers from Borderline personality disorder and even appeared in a public service announcement about his cause. He was diagnosed in the summer of 2011 and he has since felt so much better after finally receiving treatment and help. He also had support from family and friends. He stresses the importance of speaking out and shedding light on mental illness. Ignorance is definitely not bliss in this situation. Mental health needs to be understood and supported. We need more of a conversation, according to Marshall.
11 J.K. Rowling
Did you know that famed, award-winning author J.K. Rowling thought about committing suicide? She is yet another author who struggled with depression, but we are so, so glad that she powered through! After all, she had a lot to say and she created a fabulous story of a boy wizard named Harry Potter who went on awesome adventures. Perhaps you have heard of her books. Her severe depression was the result of trying to make ends meet as a single mother. She was a young twenty-something woman and she actually did try to seek help, only to be told that she was basically not sick enough.
10 Ricky Williams
Sometimes mental illness occurs and you just do not even know what is going on. In fact, many sufferers of mental disorders at first think that there is something wrong with them; that it is merely a case of being insane or crazy. Yet mental illness is very real and it does not discriminate. Just ask Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ricky Williams. He suffers from social anxiety disorder and said that before he got help, he felt the isolation and confusion due to not being able to express what was really wrong with him. About 15 million people in the United States suffer from this disorder, so he is certainly not alone.
9 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has opened up and discussed her bouts with depression. She even resorted to self-mutilation and would slash at her skin with sharp objects. She has expressed that the fame and success that came with her work led her to become exasperated. She was fed up with it all and doing something irrational and dangerous provided a certain rush that acting and living in the public eye did not. She fortunately got help and support for her issues, and now she is at the top of her game. Just look at that fabulous woman! The world really does need more people like her to speak out about mental illness.
8 Abraham Lincoln
The great and wise Abraham Lincoln suffered from bouts of depression, it turns out. Well, that does not really come as a surprise, considering that the man had to help lead a country that was headed straight for a bloody civil war. Faced with slavery and tons of hate that was to his left and right, Honest Abe was bound to suffer from some kind of psychological turmoil. He had the symptoms of what would today be considered depression and melancholia. He had periods of brooding and feeling anxious. In the United States, about 20 million people are affected by depression.
7 Carrie Fisher
What do Star Wars and manic bipolar disorder have in common? Carrie Fisher. The actress who played Princess Leia in the famous films has suffered from episodes of manic bipolar disorder and she has even spoken out about her struggles so that the public can listen up and become more educated about mental illness. Now that is Princess Leia tough! She described her episodes as a period when she felt delusional and almost psychotic. Her mind was foggy and she was filled with confusion. Hallucinations and alcoholism ensued until she got treatment for her mental illness. Now she can share her story with others and continue building the Star Wars saga.
6 Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is another celeb who has spoken up and started a conversation about the mental health stigma. He himself has experienced the effects of Bipolar disorder and was not diagnosed until he was in his mid-thirties. He has talked about feeling the lowest of lows and the inner turmoil that goes along with mental illness. Unfortunately, the public just does not have a clear picture of what mental health and mental illness are. He has released a video, which can be seen on YouTube, called Time to Change. In it he talks about how government funding can help to address the issue of mental health.
5 Jim Carrey
Would you believe that funnyman Jim Carrey battled with depression? We would. It seems that many people who turn to comedy or a creative interest do so because they find it to be a nice escape or release from mental fogginess and confusion. So to hear that an actor whose films have raked in about $100 million has struggled with depression makes sense. In 2009, Carrey finally broke his silence and spoke out about how he suffered for years on end with depressive thoughts. He was also diagnosed with ADHD and experienced family and financial issues early on in his life. Without a stable support system, that would throw anyone into a depressive spiral.
4 Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes ruled television and even movies for a bit in her very young days. She was a teen idol of the 1990s and her wit and humor were endearing and hilarious. Fast forward to her early adult years, and she suffered terribly. She was admitted to a psychiatric ward a couple of times and announced on social media that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She also struggled with paranoia and substance abuse, and was involved in multiple driving-under-the-influence charges. Things got so bad that her mother had to assume control over her finances. To date, Amanda is still struggling.
3 Mike Tyson
Mental illness even attacks tough fighters. Just ask pro boxer Mike Tyson. He too struggled with depression and alcoholism. He has been very open about his mental illness and he even spoke out about the similarities between himself and actor Robin Williams (who was depressed and sadly committed suicide.) Tyson himself had said that to him and others with mental illness, suicide is a form of comfort. It is almost like a way out of the misery. Fortunately, Tyson is still with us and we hope that he is receiving the help and treatment he needs. It really does take a solid support system and the right diagnosis and treatment to get things back on track.
2 Elton John
You may not have known, but the super-popular and famous singer and pianist Elton John struggled with loads of mental issues. He suffered from bulimia, as well as cocaine use. The singer would binge eat on large amounts of food only to purge it all (this is usually done through vomiting.) It is a mental disorder that affects a lot of young women, so to have the singer speak out about it helped to shed some light on the reality that men can suffer from eating disorder as well. We are glad that he seems to be not just surviving, but thriving, and he cited rehab as helping him to overcome his battle with cocaine addiction.
1 Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is a singer and actress, as well as a huge supporter and activist in the mental health spectrum. She suffers from Bipolar disorder and she received treatment for her struggles with bulimia. Demi got the help she needed and deserved and has spoken on countless television programs as well as in magazines that hopefully loads of people will see. Little girls, parents, and the general public need to know about these struggles. They are real, and getting “better” is not just a matter of “getting a grip.” We applaud Demi for being such a positive and insightful role model for people everywhere who struggle with a mental illness.
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