By Manvi Pant
If you have ever felt trapped and isolated inside your mind, you are not alone. With May being Mental Health Month, we bring you six celebrities who addressed and spoke up about their mental-health struggles.
Renowned British author and creator of the mega-successful Harry Potter series, JK Rowling suffered from clinical depression before she found fame. A short-lived catastrophic marriage, financial penury and being the unemployed mother of a newborn led her to the darkest patch of her life. “It was almost a surprise to me every morning that my daughter was still alive,” she said in an interview.
Things changed when she decided to seek help. She learnt to accept who she was and prepared herself for the worst. Despite being rejected by 12 publishing houses in the UK, she did not give up until one signed her up. “Rock bottom is a foundation, not a conclusion,” she says.
TV show host Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet in 1997 on The Oprah Winfrey Show. While it was a historic moment for the LGBT community, what happened after turned her life upside down. Her career nose-dived, her shows got cancelled and the feeling of alienation hit her hard.
Eventually, she started seeing a therapist, took medication for depression, and healed. “I can’t believe I came back from that point,” says Ellen, who is now married to her lady love, and is one of the world’s most successful TV personalities.
Body-shamed as a child, Ileana D’Cruz spent most of her early life looking for acceptance. Unfortunately, things did not change after she entered Bollywood. “I had gone from happy to being completely depressed and not knowing what it was. There came a time when I wanted everything to end,” says the Barfi! actor who suffered from depression, much like fellow actor Deepika Padukone.
Ileana also had body dysmorphic disorder. It was only after Ileana took therapy that she was able to look forward with clarity and strength.
In 2006, Oscar-winning actor Gwyneth Paltrow became a mother for the second time. But things quickly turned into a different direction when postpartum depression took over. “I really went into a dark, scary, painful place and the experience was debilitating,” she said in an interview.
Instead of going for medications, she adopted organic methods like therapy, a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, rest, recovery and good sleep. In a much better place now, Gwyneth uses her experience to give strength to new mothers. “That’s how you move through it!” she shares.
American standup comic Sarah Silverman struggled with severe depression and anxiety as a teenager. She saw several therapists. “One hanged himself, another overmedicated, and a third took me off medications and helped me feel like myself again,” she says. Then, nine years later, her symptoms returned.
Sarah has lived with depression for years now. If anything has changed, it’s her ability to control it and ride it in the best way forward.
Disney star Demi Lovato’s first brush with mental illness happened at age 18. The child actor was diagnosed with depression, addiction, bulimia and bipolar disorder. While her career was on an upward graph, her personal life was falling apart and she never even realised that she was sick.
Despite several public relapses, Demi has been vocal about her problems, and has inspired many others in similar situations.
First published in eShe’s May 2020 issue