As some of you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Two years ago, I wrote about my own struggles with mental illness. Since receiving my own diagnoses, I have been increasingly inspired by others who are willing to open up about their own struggles, especially those in the public eye. There is such a stigma surrounding mental health, and the only way to change that is to talk about it; the louder your voice, the larger your impact. Mental illness does not discriminate. Wealth, status, and power can’t stop it; but compassion and a lack of judgment can certainly help. So, here are a few of Hollywood’s finest opening up about their own personal struggles with mental illness.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock is probably the last person anyone expected to be affected by mental illness, but it does not discriminate. This literal giant has revealed that mental illness runs in his family (he once saved his mother from a suicide attempt), and that it has made its way to him. “I reached a point where I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I was crying constantly,” Johnson said, adding that injuries that ended his football career exacerbated his depression. But, Johnson picked himself back up. He has gone on to become a successful wrestler and actor, and is quite possibly one of the most beloved people in Hollywood. His hardships may have broken him, but they did not end him.
Star of one of the greatest and most underrated movies of all time, Letters to Juliet (and some other stuff, like Mamma Mia and Les Miserables), Seyfried is one of my favorite actresses. (Also, did you see her Met Gala look?!) But hit movies and pretty dresses don’t make you immune to mental illness. Seyfried, who acknowledges she has obsessive compulsive disorder, says, “I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it. I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years….I don’t see the point of getting off of it….I don’t want to risk it.” Seyfried is also well aware of the mental health stigma: “A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category, but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else. You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.” True words, indeed.
This nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter from Canada has been compared to John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, but has a Justin Bieber-esque fan following. It’s no surprise that reaching this level of fame in just a few short years has been stressful. Mendes recently opened up about attending therapy sessions and how important he feels it is to talk to those close to him about how he’s feeling. All of this has followed the release of his new song “In My Blood,” which features lyrics like, “Laying on the bathroom floor / Feeling nothing / I’m overwhelmed and insecure” and “Sometimes I feel like giving up / But I just can’t / It isn’t in my blood.” With a fan base around his age, a demographic that is increasingly affected by mental illness, being open about these challenges is important. So, what is Shawn’s ultimate reminder regarding anxiety? “All pain is temporary.”
Kristen Bell seems like one of the bubbliest and most upbeat actresses ever, but even she has struggled with her mental health. Bell filmed a video for the #MyYoungerSelf campaign for the Child Mind Institute, opening up about her own challenges, saying, “I have suffered from anxiety and/or depression since I was eighteen.” Bell went on to bring up the role that comparison can play in our mental health by adding, “What I would say to [my] younger self is don’t be fooled by this game of perfection that humans play, because Instagram and magazines and TV shows, they strive for a certain aesthetic and everything looks so beautiful and people seem like they don’t have problems, but everyone’s human.” Kristen’s right – comparison is the thief of joy; so just do you – she definitely does.
I seriously love Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively. Until fairly recently, little did I know that Reynolds has been suffering from anxiety. In fact, he thinks it is something he’s dealt with since he was a child, but didn’t identify until he was working on his movie Deadpool. Reynolds said, “I literally had the shakes. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety.’” It can be hard to believe that Reynolds, living a seemingly perfect life with his wife and kids, constantly cracking jokes on social media, and showing up to red carpets looking perfectly polished could be feeling this way…but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
We all know by now that I love Selena Gomez; her honesty and openness while living with a chronic illness has been a great example to me personally. Not too long ago she realized an unfortunate side effect of chronic illness: it messes with your mind. After having to cancel some tour dates and public appearances, Selena released a very real, raw statement: “As many of you know, around a year ago I revealed that I have lupus, an illness that can affect people in different ways. I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.” Since this time, Selena has released new songs sporadically while undergoing a kidney transplant, given her first performance on television in quite some time (which was highly criticized, despite reports that she had a panic attack before or during the performance), and faced cruel headlines and online comments over how anti-rejection drugs have affected to her body. While some may feel compelled to show disdain, I am grateful for what Selena has done, and how she has taken all of this in stride.
You would think if you’ve got “His Royal Highness” sitting in front of your name, life would be pretty peachy. We all know this hasn’t been true for Prince Harry, but until he opened up recently, we had no idea to what extent this went. The Prince says he went through twenty years of not properly handling his emotions following the death of his mother, which eventually led to a period of “total chaos” and “aggression.”“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?” Prince Harry is certainly one of the most well-connected people in the world, and he’s used this and his experiences for good. He, along with his brother and sister-in-law, have started the mental health organization Heads Together, and his personal challenges have made a way for him to further connect with veterans through the extensive work he does with them.