No! You are not alone! There are umpteen number of famous people and celebrities, some of them even our role models and favorites, who have struggled with rabid mental health disorders. Beginning from world leaders such as Abraham Lincoln (clinical Depression) and Winston Churchill (Manic Depression and suicidal tendencies) to Academicians or Scientists like Isaac Newton (Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis) and John Nash, of A Beautiful Mind, (Schizophrenia) from artists like Eminem (Depression and Suicidal) Robbie Williams (Depression) to authors and poets such as Robert Lowell (Bipolar Disorder), Leo Tolstoy (clinical Depression and substance abuse) to even numerous people closer home to where I write this from – singer Honey Singh, actors Raj Kiran, Sanjay Dutt and Rajesh Khanna to name a few. Some have unfortunately succumbed to their battles against Mental illnesses after a brave struggle. Names such as Hollywood actor Robin Williams, Bollywood Diva Parveen Babi, actor-model Kuldeep Singh Randhawa, Singer Kurt Cobain, Author Ernest Hemingway, Poets Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Virginia Woolf and some more. One search on the web and you’ll get countless names. Countless cases of struggle and survival and some sad endings too. With Absolute respect to each of them who fought bravely yet sadly succumbed (for succumbing DOESN’T IMPLY one is a loser! It just means one found oneself on the edge a bit more than not topple over and the reasons behind that could be as diverse as to none of us ever being worthy of judging those choices.) here’s some other famous personalities who struggled and fortunately went from not just survivors to archivers but also spoke openly about it. Some of them even went onto later becoming Mental Health warriors. Yay!
Brooke Shields – She suffered from severe postpartum depression after childbirth. She later went ahead and boldly penned her bluntly honest autobiography Down Came the Rain – My Journey Through Post Partum Depression.
Halle Berry – Sitting inside a closed car, she attempted suicide by gassing herself after a break up. Later she openly acknowledged her struggles and the need to talk openly about these issues.
Katherine Zeta Jones – She came out in the open and told the world that she was clinically confirmed suffering from Bipolar Disorder detected in 2011. She said, “If my revelation of having Bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help then it is worth it.
Owen Wilson – Nearly killed himself by slitting his hand after a traumatic phase. Later this heartthrob of millions came out in the open advocating mental health awareness, “..I have noticed.. mental health is as fragile as physical health..”
Shah Rukh Khan – The King Khan of Bollywood is said to have gone through severe depression after a shoulder dislocation and a resultant low career phase. He even (allegedly) had a 24/7 personal Mental Health caregiver accompanying him everywhere he went during that phase. He openly accepted his depression and encouraged others to do so.
Stephen Fry – After struggling with severe mental health issues he came out and said this, “I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma and to give a clearer picture of mental illness that most people know little about.”
Gwyneth Paltrow – She went through severe post-partum depression but fought bravely to overcome it. Later she openly spoke about it everywhere, “There’s a shame attached to it because if you say, “I had a baby and I couldn’t connect to the baby,” it’s like, “What is wrong with you?”‘
Deepika Padukone – Very recently in 2014 she began struggling with severe depression and faced imbecile questions like “You are a Star! You have everything you can ask for. Why this depression?” She chose to take medical and therapeutic support and came out in the open to spread Mental Health Awareness.
Angelina Jolie – The Diva who seems to have her life just Perfect struggled with severe depression at one point. She made it a point to pick up issues that helped her overcome her struggles with new meaning in life. At age 14 she began cutting herself and later openly confessed about her taking recourse to cutting when “sex didn’t feel enough and emotions didn’t feel enough” “ . . I went through a period that when I felt trapped I would cut myself. I have a lot of scars,” she said.
Monisha Koirala – She went through violent depression back in the late 90s and early 20ks. Bit she was open to talk about it, seek help and come out a brave survivor, notwithstanding even her tryst with cancer. She has ever since spoken openly about her struggles.
Meera Popkin – This famous Broadway actor was locked up in a padded room for a while due to schizophrenia. She then learned to cope with the condition. She is now a vociferous advocate for mental health awareness and lives a productive life and even wrote a book on it.
Anushka Sharma – Very recently this is what the apparently jovial and happy-go-lucky Bollywood Diva had to say, “I have anxiety. I’m treating my anxiety. And I am on medication for anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a normal thing.. . More and more people should openly talk about it.. . I want to make it my mission..”
Demi Lovato – This gorgeous singer-songwriter suffers from severe bipolar disorder and has been a blatant and unflinching advocate for mental health awareness, supporting people with mental ailments. She has also been starkly honest about the difficulties associated with her recovery. “I cannot tell you that I haven’t thrown up since treatment – I cannot tell you that I have not cut myself.”
Shama Sikandar – This Bollywood actor rcently followed actor Deepika Padukone’s footsteps and came out of years of closer suffering with Bipolar Disorder. She now candidly speaks about her struggles and her journey towards survival and recovery.
Drew Barrymore – Who could imagine this sweetest face has history of suicide attempt as a teen and was sent away to a three-month stay in a rehabilitation facility? Barrymore reportedly never relapsed and even went ahead and wrote her unabashedly honest actress autobiography Little Girl Lost.
An excellent and comprehensive list of Famous Personalities with Mental Health struggles is to be found on http://www.mentalhealthadvocacyinc.org/role-models
Remember, it is, in reality, much more difficult for celebrities and public figures to own up their mental struggles than it ever is for ordinary people. The pressure to perform and keep up to the perceived perfect image is tremendous on any famous personality. Much more than you or I would feel it upon us any given day. Yet they braved it all. They did it.
So, you are Not alone! The struggle, the survival and the war against stigmatising Mental disorders – through all of it we have fellow survivors and warriors with us, before us, paving the path for anyone who is struggling with their Mind to come out boldly and seek help. One need not suffer alone in darkness and silence and estranged from others. There is a big chunk of the world opening up to hold our hands and help us cross over to awareness, empowerment and recovery.
Take care, dear Mind.
© & Author : Nivedita Dey, 2016
Images Courtsey & © : Google stock photos/source websites