We are surrounded by public figures acting (or being pushed into the role) as role-models for their fans. Actors, singers, athletes… celebrities have a platform that we don’t. And when they use their platforms to bring things into the open, it helps everyone see “we aren’t alone.”
Here are some of the celebrities I could think of who have publicly come out as having a mental illness (or two).
I know that some of these names mean nothing to some of you. While others are household names. I highly recommend googling each of these people if you don’t recognize who they are. All of them have helped make changes and bring their voices to the fight against the stigma of discussing mental illness.
For some of them, they’ve changed entire cultures. (Check out the NBA and NFL specifically.) Cultures that, traditionally, exhibit that particularly toxic masculine trait of “emotions are bad.”
One of the things I have always struggled with the most has been my overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. And yet, here are people who seem to have it all. And I see, they have struggled too.
Stephen Fry wrote about loneliness in one of the most beautiful essays on the topic I’ve ever read.
Only the Lonely
“I can read back that last sentence and see that, bipolar or not, if I’m under treatment and not actually depressed, what the fuck right do I have to be lonely, unhappy or forlorn? I don’t have the right. But there again I don’t have the right not to have those feelings. Feelings are not something to which one does or does not have rights.”
Our stories are our own. Our experiences are all different. But we share one thing. Everyone has feelings. I do. You do. The person you see passing you on the street. People on screen, on stage, and on the field. And there is nothing wrong with that.
There is nothing wrong about talking about our feelings. We might just help another person. Inspire them. Show them that they aren’t alone.