Celebrities and Mental Illness
By: Lucia Carrillo (@mrsrobinson_)
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about depression and celebrities who are dealing with it. I’ve read them all and I’ve gone through comments because even though I know, there’s nothing positive there. Most of the times I can’t help it, I just have to read it. When it comes to mental illness, opinions and comments can hurt people; I know it because I’ve been there.
We live in a society where we pay attention to everything celebrities do; we even have an opinion, and we express it openly through social media. If Kim Kardashian shares a picture of herself, a lot of people instantly have this almost-bizarre need to say something about it, and it’s the same with mental illness. If one celebrity says something about it, we tend to comment on it, and sadly, there’s a lot of people questioning them for speaking about their mental illness. I find it bizarre and weird; we live in a society where depression is a common mental disorder, but at the same time we stigmatize people who suffer from it.
Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and yet depression is stigmatized. We are curious about depression but at the same time, we are condescending to people dealing with depression and we question them always.
We have even created this stereotype of depressed people, and we shame them if they don’t fit those standards that we have established. We can see it, for instance, with Cara Delevingne. Cara recently said she had been struggling with depression and many people questioned her asking how she dealt with depression since she is clearly privileged and can afford specialists. Of course, your economic situation can affect your mental status but doesn’t make your depression less real or less painful. Of course, Cara Delevingne is a privileged woman, but privileged doesn’t mean you have no problems.
Women struggling with mental illness face a double stigma; more women are affected by depression than men, according to the World Health Organization, and on the contrary, public opinion tends to judge women more than they judge men. For example, when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson revealed past struggles with depression, most of the comments were supportive; however when Halsey opened up about mental illness and suicidal thoughts, she was cyberbullied and had to deactivate Twitter.
Let’s stop judging people when it comes to mental illness. As someone who has struggled with depression, I find Cara’s action empowering and brave. I’ve felt ashamed so many times of recognizing that I’ve been there, that I dealt with depression. I was unable to admit it, unable to ask for help. Of course, everyone has the right to say what they want about themselves, and not everyone has to share with the world if they are dealing with mental illness. But in my case I felt ashamed for so long, I wasn’t able to speak up. Now here I am, sharing with whoever is reading this that I dealt with mental illness and there’s nothing to be ashamed.
To me, women like Cara speaking up about mental illness is empowering, because when she speaks up about it, she is also saying "there’s nothing to hide, nothing to be embarrassed, it can happen to anyone." I’ve also been told "that’s life, you are not depressed you just don’t know how to handle life," just like Cara. That only made me feel worse because people think depression is the result of not knowing how to deal with reality. I have watched a lot of motivational videos saying "hey, try harder!", "you have to fight to get what you want!" Those statements don’t help and make you feel even weaker. If you haven’t dealt with depression, but you have thought that having depression is related somehow to being weak, you are wrong.
Do you realize how hard is to live always thinking the worst about yourself and yet keep living? We are not weak; we are warriors, always fighting. A day that we stay alive is a day we have won. So please, stop judging people when they speak out about their mental illness. We are brave, and we deserve to be respected and taken seriously.