People with mental illnesses are often misunderstood and dismissed by society; and frequently, patients are medicated simply to suppress the symptoms. While proper care and medication can help sufferers, understanding the different illnesses can help us all take steps to eradicate this global problem. Celebrities are not immune to the devastating effects of mental illness. Sadly, mental illness continues to destroy families and kill without proper funding or attention towards prevention. Shedding a light on this disease with famous people could be a start. Here are some superstars who have struggled privately and publicly with debilitating mental health issues.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from Lewy Body Dementia, which is a mashup of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. It presents in the form of hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. The beloved comedian and actor also suffered from anxiety and depression and was known to exhibit manic periods followed by reclusive, introverted times where no one saw him for weeks at a time. On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California, at the age of 63.
“Mama Monster” treats her fans like family and is well known for not only her talent but also her generosity. Following a violent assault when she was 19, Gaga didn’t talk about the attack for seven years. As a result, she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and, with the help of doctors, friends and family, is better dealing with the disorder and is using her experience to help kids and teenagers deal with their own feelings of trauma.
This toxic songstress suffered a purported nervous breakdown, stemming from a nasty custody battle over her children. She was committed to rehab, but still displayed irrational behavior, including the time she shaved her head and repeatedly struck a photographer’s car with an umbrella before fleeing the scene in 2007. Spears was involuntarily committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hold and put under a conservatorship, a step that’s usually reserved for extremely ill people. Spears’ father, Joe, makes all life decisions for her and controls her fortune.
The founder of Pink Floyd suffered from schizophrenia, a disease characterized by thought disorders and hallucinations or delusions. Sufferers also experience decreased interest and pleasure in everyday activities and in hobbies or pastimes they previously found joy in doing. Barrett started moving away from the band and isolating himself. He began to exhibit a dead, blank stare and did not know where he was much of the time. He retreated to living with his mother until his death at 60.
This former boy singer with millions of tween fans worldwide is now in his 20s. The former heartthrob continues to deal with the effects of depression. In his worst times, “The Beebs” repeatedly threw loud, raucous parties at his mansion in Los Angeles and raced his custom Lamborghini along residential streets without regard for the safety of his passengers or neighbors. His concerts have been peppered with episodes of him forgetting lyrics, cursing at fans, walking off stage and preaching. Medical experts have said that overwhelming fan attention over the years has led to his behavior.
There are countless others (famous and not) who have suffered. As easy as it is to be a Monday morning quarterback and dismiss mental illness as “nothing” or something that’s used to garner attention, it is as real as any physical illness. Physical illness is much easier to diagnose than mental illness, as it is thought of as an “invisible disease.” If you or a loved one have questions, there are many online and in-person resources where you can learn more and get help.