The fact that many people in creative fields experience mental health issues should come as no surprise. Not only do schizophrenia, depression and other psychiatric conditions not discriminate (there’s no single demographic of people on Earth entirely free from their touch) but there even seems to be a causal link between mental health issues and creativity. Actors, in particular, seem to be even more eccentric than the average creative sort. Here are some famous people you may know and the conditions they live with. It seems that even those who have the world at their beck and call aren’t immune to mental health issues…
The sublimely beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones has Bipolar II, which means she has severe depressed episodes, but only suffers from a mild manic state called hypomania. Many other people with Bipolar have a more pronounced manic phase that can involve excessive confidence, euphoria and making rash decisions, and it’s a good way for a rich person to become a poor person in very little time.
Mel Gibson, it seems, has become more famous for drinking and mouthing off than his string of successful movies. In a 2002 interview Gibson revealed he had been diagnosed as “manic depressive,” an older term for what is now known as Bipolar. His career still hasn’t recovery even a shred of its former shine, but there’s still time.
Princess Leia from Star Wars (known in this much more mundane reality as Carrie Fisher), has dealt with both drug addiction and Bipolar disorder for many years. The combination of addiction and mental health issues is sometimes euphemistically called “dual diagnosis.” Fisher spoke openly about her problems, stating, “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that.” Many would agree the first step to solving a problem is admitting it exists.
British actress Emma Thompson lives with depression, and claims her acting career saved her from “going under.” Emma said she feels sad and hopeless sometimes, and can find it hard to get out of bed.
Jim Carey has dedicated his life to making people laugh, but is it just to cover up the sadness that hides behind his mask? Jim has admitted to having “peaks and valleys” and that his depression is the core motivation behind his comedy movies. Carey is the archetypal crying clown.
Actor, writer and director Zach Braff (JD from the hit hospital comedy show Scrubs) told Parade magazine that he suffers from depression and revealed his character in the movie Garden State is very similar to the real Zac. He went on to say, “To have millions of people go, ‘I watched your movie and related,’ was the ultimate affirmation that I’m not a freak.” Zac’s choice of words says a lot about the nature of stigma.
Sheryl Crow has spoken of suffering with depression. In a magazine interview with Blender, the singer admitted, “Depression has been part of my existence for as long as I can remember. I miss things I never even had.”
Fall Out Boy star Pete Wentz opened up about his long battle with depression in an interview with Playboy. He’s had to see therapists since he was a child and often felt suicidal. “It begins to feel uncomfortable not to be depressed. You feel guilty for feeling happy.”
Gorgeous actress Cameron Diaz has a “thing” about dirty doorknobs. Cameron opens doors with her elbows in order to avoid getting germs all over her hands. She also scrubs her home and washes her hands constantly, all hallmarks of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Soccer superstar David Beckham likes all his things to be symmetrical. Beckham insists his shirts are to be ordered by colour and everything has to be even. His wife, Victoria Beckham, stated, “He’s got that obsessive compulsive thing where everything has to match. If you open our fridge, it’s all coordinated down either side. We’ve got three fridges – food in one, salad in another and drinks in the third. In the drinks one, everything is symmetrical. If there’s three cans of Diet Coke, he’d throw one away rather than having three – because it has to be an even number.”
So far we’ve identified a lot of celebs who have depression, anxiety and mania, but identifying celebrities with schizophrenia is a much harder task. After all, schizophrenia affects one person in a hundred, and there are far more than a hundred celebrities, politicians, musicians, artists and sports stars in the world, right? Maybe the stigma of schizophrenia is so powerful that even the rich and famous are a bit reluctant to “out” themselves?
Genius John Nash, famously portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, battled the torment of chronic schizophrenia constantly, and suffered from full-blown hallucinations, severe paranoia and delusions. Receiving a Nobel prize in Economics (which wasn’t even his professional field!) seems to show that genius and madness are indeed closely linked in this case.
Singer, guitarist and painter Syd Barrett, one of the founding members of the supergroup Pink Floyd, went from prominent rockstar to housebound in very short order, partly due to eating acid tabs like Skittles. Syd sadly passed away in 2006 after living a reclusive life with his mother since the early 1970s.
Vincent van Gogh, the poster child for “mad” artists (in both senses of the word), became the most famous self-harmer in artistic circles after cutting off a part of his ear for inspiration (the painting was going to be called Ouch). Many agree that Vincent is one of the greatest painters ever to live, so think of what he might have become if he hadn’t taken his own life while still a young man. Sad.
Brian Wilson, known as the real talent behind the highly innovative music of the Beach Boys (such as the Pet Sounds album), didn’t help his mental health by doing enough cocaine to worry Charlie Sheen. He had several psychiatric admissions, and even endured a course of electro-convulsive therapy. We all endured the album he made with his psychotherapist as a collaborator, and we will possibly forgive him for it one day…but not yet.