Due to the stigma attached to mental health issues, many people respond to anxiety and depression by suffering in silence. However, in most cases, speaking to someone you trust about your experience and symptoms is the first step towards bettering your situation. It’s easy to feel isolated in your experience with mental health struggles, they are after all triggered by very personal issues. However, in this instance, the oversharing culture of today’s society may go in your favour.
According to research published by The Guardian 2017’s statistics showed that 16 million people in the UK suffer from mental illness. This translates to one in four adults who will experience mental illness at some point during the course of a year with issues relating to anxiety, depression, alcohol dependence, substance misuse and psychosis.
A review published in 2016 with the aim to establish a global snapshot of the prevalence of global anxiety disorders identified a number of vulnerable groups most likely to suffer from mental health problems. Research within the review concluded that women, young people and those suffering from other chronic diseases (in addition to anxiety) were disproportionately affected by anxiety-based disorders. Furthermore, researchers working on the project established that across countries, women were found twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men.
Over the last few years, celebrities have been much more open about their own experiences with anxiety in a bid to help to publicly fight the stigma and reminding fans that they’re not alone. Here 13 celebrities share their wise words and tips for handling anxiety as well as highlighting the importance of breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health issues.
“I think I had tendencies toward depression from quite young. It became really acute when I was sort of twenty-five to twenty-eight was a dark time. It’s that absence of feeling — and it’s even the absence of hope that you can feel better. And it’s so difficult to describe to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. Sadness is — I know sadness — sadness is not a bad thing. You know? To cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what the Dementors are. And it was because of my daughter that I went and got help.” —The Oprah Winfrey Show, October 2010
“What do I say to you girls — you beautiful girls? You girls who are having the Bad Year — the Bad Year where you cannot remember why you were happy aged 12, and cannot imagine being happy at 21? … That panic and anxiety will lie to you — they are gonzo, malign commentators on the events of your life. Their counsel is wrong. You are as high, wired and badly advised by adrenaline as you would be by cocaine. Panic and anxiety are mad, drugged fools. Do not listen to their grinding-toothed, sweaty bullshit … And the most important thing? To know that you were not born like this. You were not born scared and self-loathing and overwhelmed. Things have been done — which means things can be undone. It is hard work. But you are not scared of hard work, compared with everything else you have dealt with.” —Stylist UK, March 2016
“I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses … and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself … Maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously, that was daunting because if you’ve never seen it before how do you support it? … It gave everybody a wonderful new label — Diana’s unstable and Diana’s mentally unbalanced. And unfortunately, that seems to have stuck on and off over the years.
“When no one listens to you, or you feel no one’s listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen. For instance, you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it’s the wrong help you’re asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you’re in the media all the time you’ve got enough attention, inverted commas. But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales. So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn’t like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn’t cope with the pressures.” — BBC1 Panorama Interview, 1995
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore. … I took on my depression like it was the fight of my life, which, of course, it was. … I tried so hard to fight the endless sobbing. I remember asking myself one night, while I was curled up in the same old corner of my same old couch in tears yet again over the same old repetition of sorrowful thoughts, ‘Is there anything about this scene you can change, Liz?’ And all I could think to do was stand up, while still sobbing, and try to balance on one foot in the middle of the living room. Just to prove that — while I couldn’t stop the tears or change my dismal interior dialogue — I was not yet totally out of control: at least I could cry hysterically while balanced on one foot.” — Eat, Pray, Love, February 2006
“I first experienced depression when I was 13. I was walking off a bus from a school camping trip. The trip had been miserable: I was, sadly, a bed wetter, and I had Pampers hidden in my sleeping bag — a gigantic and shameful secret to carry. … You know how you can be fine one moment, and the next it’s, ‘Oh my God, I f—king have the flu!’? It was like that. Only this flu lasted for three years. My whole perspective changed. I went from being the class clown to not being able to see life in that casual way anymore. I couldn’t deal with being with my friends, I didn’t go to school for months, and I started having panic attacks. People use ‘panic attack’ very casually out here in Los Angeles, but I don’t think most of them really know what it is. Every breath is laboured. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there. Once, my stepdad asked me, ‘What does it feel like?’ And I said, ‘It feels like I’m desperately homesick, but I’m home.’” — Glamour, October 2015
“My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?” —Glamour, April 2015
“I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18 when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts. It didn’t feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die. I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘I’ll give you some Valium,’ and Francesca Sorrenti, thank God, said, ‘You’re not taking that.’ It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally. There’s a massive pressure to do what you have to do. I was really little, and I was going to work with Steven Meisel. It was just really weird — a stretch limo coming to pick you up from work. I didn’t like it. But it was work, and I had to do it.” —Vanity Fair, October 2012
“I started to say no. I’m not doing that. I don’t want to do that. I’m not taking that picture, I’m not going to that event, I’m not standing by that because that’s not what I stand for. And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am. And then you go home, and you look in the mirror, and you’re like, ‘Yes. I can go to bed with you every night.’ Because that person, I know that person.” – Yale University, 2015
“You don’t have to be an actor to get over anxiety, you don’t have to be a writer to overcome it. You just have to find what that thing is within you that you are drawn to.” – Child Mind Institute, 2018
“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. I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumour in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist. As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.”
“I think mental health is an area where people are embarrassed… They don’t want to talk about it because somehow they feel they’re a failure as a parent or, you know, they’re embarrassed for their child or they want to protect their child, lots of very good reasons, but mental health I feel is something that you have to talk about. That time from 15 to 16 to your mid- to late 20s – you look grown-up, people think you’re grown-up, but you’re still a kid.” – New York Magazine, 2015
“If you think you might be suffering from any kind of postpartum mood disorder, or are aware of some preexisting condition in your life that could lead to it, DO NOT WASTE TIME! Get help right away… Don’t be ashamed and don’t disregard what you are feeling. It is better to be proactive. Postpartum depression is extremely treatable, and there are many ways to cope with and get through it. It is important to get educated and talk about how you are feeling. It rarely passes alone or without causing damage… And remember: postpartum depression is beyond your control.” – Down Came The Rain, 2005