Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest celebrity to come out in public with her very private, very personal mental illness. After the tabloid National Enquirer “outed” the fact that she was spending some time in a mental health facility, Zeta-Jones very graciously admitted that she suffers from bipolar disorder. She knew that admitting her own mental problems could be of enormous help to the millions around the world who suffer from such disorders. Over 25% of Americans over the age of 18 suffer from diagnosable mental disorders of some type. Here are ten celebrities who have been courageous enough to bring their own mental problems to light,and have possibly helped countless others with their own mental problems.
1. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Catherine Zeta-Jones recently checked into a mental health facility for a few days, to treat her bipolar disorder. The actress admits to having suffered from the disorder, characterized by bouts of depression and times of manic highs, for years. Stress, which she has been exposed to much of lately, seems to trigger Zeta-Jones’ disorder. Her husband’s diagnosis of cancer could not have been easy for Zeta-Jones, which might have caused her latest round of problems with bipolar. She says she hopes that by going public with her disorder, she can help the millions around the world suffering from bipolar disorder.
2. Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields went public with her problems with postpartum depression in 2007. Postpartum depression is a mental disorder that affects many new mothers, but some are reluctant to admit such low feelings following the birth of a child, in a time that is supposed to be one of the happiest in a woman’s life. Shields not only outed her own postpartum depression, she has beena vocal supporter of bills to provide funding for research of postpartum depression, as well as encouraging women to take anti-depressants to treat the disorder.
3. Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher admitted to her own lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder years ago. The actress and author described the mood swings that she suffers from and said that she had cut her hair and gotten tattoos during some of her manic phases. Fisher experienced a psychotic break in 1997, after which time she went public with her mental illness. She has since written about her mental problems and provided much comfort and hope to bipolar sufferers everywhere.
4. Emma Thompson
Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson admitted to suffering from clinical depression a few years ago. She said that during her lowest times, she struggled just to get out of bed each morning. Thompson has said that acting in various roles has helped her cope with her own problems, providing an escape from her real life.
5. Herschel Walker
In 2008, former NFL player Herschel Walker went public with his own struggle with dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder. He had been in treatment for the disorder for eight years when he went public, and said that it had been under control for most of that time. Walker, who admitted to contemplating suicide on more than one occasion, wrote a book about his problems, to help others who might be suffering from the same often debilitating mental disorder.
6. Paula Deen
Television chef and recipe guru Paula Deen has admitted to a 20-year battle with panic disorder and agoraphobia. She told CNN’s Larry King that she started having panic attacks after the death of her father and dealt with them for 20 years. Deen even said she wouldn’t leave the house without a brown paper bag to breathe into in case she experienced an attack. Deen says she has since overcome the problems on her own, without professional help.
7. Elton John
Musician Sir Elton John has admitted to suffering from substance abuse and bulimia for much of his life. He went into rehab in 1990 for both problems, and has struggled on and off with the disorders for many years. John says that he has been clean and sober for years, and that the three most important words he’d ever uttered in his lifetime were “I need help.”
8. Billy Joel
Another talented musician who has suffered from mental problems is Billy Joel. Joel admittedto battling depression for much of his life and even attempting suicide by drinking a bottle of furniture polish in his youth. He has also suffered from alcoholism, which often goes hand-in-hand with depression, as depressed people attempt to self-medicate. He used the suicide note that he wrote in a song entitled, “Tomorrow is Today,” and admitted to his depression in a 2005 book about his life, Billy Joel: The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man.
9. Mike Tyson
Much of Mike Tyson’s mental problems may be attributed to brain damage he suffered as a professional boxer. In 1988, he was diagnosed with manic depression and has also been diagnosed with chronic depression. While a psychological assessment of Tyson was released to the media against his will, Tyson has since gone public with his problems, admitting to being on the antidepressant Zoloft “to keep from killing y’all.”
10. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie’s mental problems were first brought to light by her actor-father, Jon Voight. He said that she suffered from depression, self-mutilation and suicide attempts in her teenage years. She virulently denied her father’s accusations, although Jolie has admitted to having suffered from problems in her youth related to the breakup of her parents’ marriage. Other nefarious publications have claimed in recent years that Jolie had once again attempted suicide, and that she had spent time in a mental institution recently – neither of which, of course, have ever been proven.