What could Halle Berry, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga really have to complain about? We see them on the red carpet and at movie premieres, glamorously done up, pristine smiles on their faces, with expressions that convey nothing but pure joy. But can we really be so naive to assume that celebrities don’t have their own issues and struggles that they’re dealing with?
Having to maintain a façade of excellence can be burdensome and truthfully isn’t the right message to project. The celebrities in this list have all opened up about their own struggles with mental health and how they deal with it, which in turn provides a positive message to those who look up to them. And that message is to not be ashamed about feeling less than perfect.
There’s a real stigma about mental health, and if celebrities, the very ones that people look up to as role models, are able to have a discussion about it, then we are heading in the right direction. At the end of the day, we’re all human, even the stars who seemingly live in a world separate from ours.
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry was devastatingly depressed after her 1997 divorce to ex-husband and baseball star David Justice. So much so that she tried to take her own life. After having recovered from a crippling depression, she was finally able to open up about her experience.
“I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me. She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do. My sense of worth was so low. I had to reprogram myself to see the good in me. Because someone didn’t love me didn’t mean I was unlovable. That’s what the break-up of my marriage reduced me to. It took away my self-esteem. It beat me down to the lowest of lows.”
Ellen DeGeneres, now one of America’s most beloved TV personalities, is openly gay, but it took a long time for her to be accepted for it. She was quoted saying: “When I walked out of the studio after five years of working so hard, knowing I had been treated so disrespectfully for no other reason than I was gay, I just went into this deep, deep depression.”
“It’s so corny but it’s true. You have no idea where the darkest times of your life might end, so you have to just keep going,” she explained. And that’s exactly the message to be taken from her revelation.
The next pop star is still dealing with PTSD after a recent tragedy…
In July of 2018, Ariana Grande opened up on her experience with PTSD after the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. “It’s hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe tremendous loss. But, yeah, it’s a real thing,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever know how to talk about it and not cry.”
She was open about how important it is to get professional help when you’re in times of need. “Therapy has saved my life so many times,” Grande tweeted. “If you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be.”
It would be a mistake to think that only the female stars are opening up about their mental health. Take Ryan Reynolds, for instance, who disclosed his struggle suffering from intense anxiety during the filming of Deadpool. And he credits his wife, Blake Lively, for keeping him going.
“I never ever slept. Or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle – just sitting straight, constantly working at the same time”, he explained. “By the time we were in post [production], we’d been to Comic-Con, and people went crazy for it. The expectations were eating me alive. Blake helped me through that. I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane.”
Next, an icon from the Star Wars trilogy opens up about her personal battles …
Adele told Vanity Fair about her tendency to get depressed. “I can slip in and out of [depression] quite easily,” she said. “I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.”
“I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant…Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it.” But eventually she did speak up about it and it gave her the strength to talk about it publicly.
Even Brad Pitt has dealt with his own mental health concerns. See what he had to say about them next…
Brad Pitt was dealing with depression in the 90s, and a trip to Morrocco and witnessing the poverty of the country really shook him and changed his life. “I was hiding out from the celebrity thing. I was sitting on the couch and just turning into a doughnut, and I really got irritated with myself. I got to, ‘What’s the point? I know better than this.’ I used to deal with depression, but I don’t now, not this decade – maybe last decade.”
“But that’s also figuring out who you are. I see it as a great education, as one of the seasons or a semester, ‘This semester I was majoring in depression.’ I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep, the same routine. I couldn’t wait to get home and hide out. But that feeling of unease was growing and one night I just said, “This is a waste.”’
Winona Ryder, someone who’s been on the movie screens for most of her life, had this to say about her personal experience with depression: “You can’t pay enough money to cure that feeling of being broken and confused. It’s not like every day’s been great ever since.”
“You have good days and bad days, and depression’s something that, y’know, is always with you.” She also was very open about being a woman with feelings, saying “I’m so sick of people shaming women for being sensitive or vulnerable. It’s so bizarre to me.”
One of comedy’s kings, Jim Carrey, has recently publicized his sadness that took over him for a large part of his life. “I was on Prozac for a long time. It may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit, but people stay on it forever. I had to get off at a certain point because I realized that, you know, everything’s just okay.”
“You need to get out of bed every day and say that life is good. That’s what I did, although at times it was very difficult for me.” Carrey’s message to people listening is that you can take control of your life, and a pill isn’t the answer in the long run.
Care to hear what Gwyneth Paltrow has dealt with? See the next page…
Emma Stone is one of Hollywood’s favorite stars, and even she has to deal with constant anxiety. She exposed her experience with having panic attacks: “The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop.”
“I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”
The woman behind the Harry Potter legacy spoke about her experience…
“It’s so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness,” J.K. Rowling told Oprah Winfrey. She had a “short and quite catastrophic marriage. I had to get my baby back to Britain and re-build us life and adrenaline kept me going.” And it was her devotion to her craft, and writing the most famous novels in history that kept her going.
When she referred to the apartment she wrote her first book in, she said “This is really where I turned my life around completely. My life changed so much in this flat. I feel I really became myself here. Everything was stripped away. I’d made such a mess of things. I just thought I want to write so I wrote the book. What was the worst that could happen? It could get turned down by every publisher in Britain. Big deal.”
Prince Harry said in an interview once, “I’ve spent most of my life saying ‘I’m fine,’ and I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well.”
“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” We can only imagine how one would feel losing a mother at that age, now add the fact that they’re in the royal family and the internal struggle is then externalized for all the world to observe.
Beyoncé is truly a prolific artist, constantly producing and it can clearly take a toll. “It was beginning to get fuzzy―I couldn’t even tell which day or which city I was at. I would sit there at ceremonies and they would give me an award and I was just thinking about the next performance,” she said in 2011.
And like many who go to their parents for words of advice, Beyoncé’s mother’s words were her savior: “My mother was very persistent and she kept saying that I had to take care of my mental health.”
We’ve seen the next pop star all over the media, and her mental health is something she now speaks openly about…
Kendall Jenner, one of the most recognized celebrities today spoke of living with anxiety: “I have such debilitating anxiety because of everything going on that I literally wake up in the middle of the night with full-on panic attacks.”
When she was asked where her anxiety comes from, she replied “Where do I even start? Everything is so horrible, it’s hard to name one thing. I just think that the world needs so much love. I wish I had the power to send Cupid around the planet, as cheesy as that sounds. You go online and you see everyone saying the worst things to each other, and it’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard not to get eaten alive by all the negativity.”
The next celebrity wants people to know that there’s nothing weak about mental illness….
“There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness,” Kristen Bell wrote in an essay. “For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board.”
“I felt worthless like I had nothing to offer like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer. We all do.”
The Rock wants people to know they’re not alone: “I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it.”
He went on to say “And oftentimes—it happens—you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble. And I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK. It’ll be OK.’ So, I wish I knew that.”
There’s a real stigma attached to mental health and stars have the power to shatter the perception of shame by using their celebrity. Kerry Washington is one of them, who said: “I say that publicly because I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health,” she stated when referring to getting professional help.
“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?”
Next, another star with her own exposé on postpartum depression.
Comedian Sarah Silverman had nothing to hide about her anxiety and sadness: “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 labored. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there…I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone.”
“But if you ever experience it, or are experiencing it right now, just know that on the other side, the little joys in life will be that much sweeter. The tough times, the days when you’re just a ball on the floor-they’ll pass. You’re playing the long game and life is totally worth it.”
Another funny girl, Lena Dunham, credits exercise to helping her anxiety. See what she said, next…
“Promised myself I would not let exercise be the first thing to go by the wayside when I got busy with Girls Season 5 and here is why: it has helped me with my anxiety in ways I’ve never dreamed possible,” she wrote on Instagram.
“To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did. It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain.”
After decades in the public eye, the beloved country music star finally opened up about her life-long struggle with mental health. “What I’ve been through is extreme. My final diagnosis was severe depression,” Judd said in an interview.
“Treatment-resistant because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal. It really felt like, if I live through this I want someone to be able to see that they can survive.” Judd wrote of her experience in her memoir “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.”
Zeta-Jones received a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, a disease that affects millions of Americans, and she knew that she had to be open and candid about it in order to help all the people suffering from it. And her words can be a message of hope for many sufferers.
She was quoted as saying: “This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them. If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”
Standing out in a culture that discourages men from speaking out about their feelings is something to be proud of. Wayne Brady confessed publicly that he hid his depression for years. He too wants to fight the stigma. “It’s difficult for men in general, I think, because of the way that we’re raised,” he said in a 2015 interview.
“We feel any of the negative emotions or that dark cloud settle on you, and you feel like you need to cry or speak to someone about it, and, ‘Nope, I’m not gonna do that, because I’m a man.’”
Lovato said at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington DC: “I think it’s important that people no longer look at mental illness as something taboo to talk about. It’s something that’s extremely common, one in five adults has a mental illness, so basically everyone is essentially connected to this problem and this epidemic.”
“The problem with mental illness is people don’t look at it as a physical illness. When you think about it, the brain is actually the most complex organ in your body. We need to treat it like physical illness and take it seriously.”
Michelle Williams went through a real depression during her time with Destiny’s Child. “When I disclosed it to our manager at the time, bless his heart, he was like, ‘Y’all just signed a multimillion-dollar deal and you’re about to go on tour. What do you have to be depressed about?’ So I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m just tired.’”
“I was to that place where it got so dark and heavy because sometimes you feel like, ‘I’m the provider, I take care of people. I’m not supposed to be feeling this way. What do I do?’ And I wanted out.”
Canada’s heartthrob had his fair share anxiety. In April 2018, the singer-songwriter openly spoke about needing to see a therapist. “I found I was closing myself off from everybody, thinking that would help me battle [my anxiety], then realizing the only way I was going to battle it was completely opening up and letting people in.”
He said he wrote about it in his single “In My Blood” (“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in, sometimes I feel like giving up, no medicine is strong enough, someone helps me.”)
America’s favorite actress Jennifer Lawrence opened up about her struggle with anxiety in 2013 when she explained her symptoms as a preteen. “When my mother told me about my childhood, she always told me that there was like a light in me, a spark that inspired me constantly.”
“When I started school, the light went out. It was never known what it was, a kind of social anxiety.” She eventually sought help from a therapist and turned to acting as a form of self-therapy.
Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez opened up about her anxiety by taking her message to social media, like many others have been known to do. Gina chose Instagram to share a video relating to her thoughts on anxiety.
“I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail.”