Famous People-They’re Just Like Us, But Crazier!

Despite Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign, many people with mental illness are still scared of the social stigma associated with it, preventing them from seeking much needed treatment. It helps […]

Despite Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign, many people with mental illness are still scared of the social stigma associated with it, preventing them from seeking much needed treatment. It helps to know that there are dozens and dozens of famous folk, like those listed below, that have come out of the mental health closet. It’s even more helpful to know that they might just be even crazier than you or I!

Abraham Lincoln

16th President of the United States and facial hair enthusiast, Abraham Lincoln fought clinical depression all his life. While the Civil War would make anyone feel down, historians report that President Lincoln “often wept in public and recited maudlin poetry.” I don’t know if things have changed now since the Emo Movement, but I don’t think anyone wants to hang out with the maudlin poetry guy.

Nonetheless, in addition to his instrumental opposition to slavery the Gettysburg address is one of the most well-known speeches in American history to date and I would give anything to be able to write something half as powerful and succinct as that, blog posts or otherwise.

Angelina Jolie

As a punky, gothic teenager Angelina Jolie battled severe depression, going so far as to cut herself repeatedly and engage in nightly consultations with an imaginary friend.  Angelina’s morbid antics have followed her to adulthood too. Leaving aside the fact that she apparently wrote her first husband’s name in blood on a shirt (which she wore to their wedding) and hung a vial of her second husband’s around her neck, even Angelina’s mainstream stuff is weird. One of her many tattoos includes the Latin proverb “quod me nutrit me destruit”-what nourishes me destroys me.  This is intense and kind of pretentious. Lucky for her, very few people can actually read Latin.

Despite these oddities, her laudable work as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations is very inspiring and she gave birth in Namibia voluntarily. And the fact that she could woo Brad Pitt away from someone who seems as sunny as Jennifer Aniston suggests that hot men dig women with some dark undertones.  Or maybe it’s just her provocative lips, in which case I’m out of luck.

Jean Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van Damme is he bipolar! Van Damme’s disorder  may or may not be a direct result of his playing a dual role in so many of his action movies. An occupational hazard of films in which plot is secondary to the hero’s biceps. In addition to a recovering cocaine and divorce addict, Van Damme is classically trained in ballet which is impressive for a guy whose career headlines include Blood Sport, Sudden Death and Cyborg 2.

Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder has been vocal about her struggles with bipolar disorder. In 1996 this alliterative heroine of the Superman movies had a severe manic episode where she went missing for three days before being found by police in a state described as “dirty, frightened and paranoid.” This story upsets me. I really need to know-just how dirty do you think we’re talking? I may be frightened and paranoid a lot of the time, but I hope never dirty. That’s just gross.

While I’m more of a Batman fan myself, Lois Lane is nothing to sneeze at. Both Clark Kent and Superman want to get with her, she’s a successful reporter for Metropolis’ The Daily Planet and a feminist trailblazer by being one of the first women to keep her maiden name after marriage. That’s a whole lot more than Cat Woman can say.

Brooke Shields

After the birth of her first child, Brooke Shields-model, actress and Scientology target-bravely disclosed her painful struggle with postpartum depression, an illness affecting one out of ten mothers (and perhaps also worrying those of us who are thinking about having a baby!).  In her book Down Came the Rain, Brooke talks about her feelings of helplessness as a new mother and wanting to throw herself out of her apartment window. It’s difficult to tell, however, just how suicidal she really was because her apartment was only on the fourth floor.

While still difficult for Brooke, her disclosure brought attention to an illness many are scared to talk about and her movie hits such as Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby are just ripe for pun-infused news headlines on the topic.

Billy Joel

Billy Joel is no Stranger to success but despite his awards, Halls of Fame recognition and designation as my all-time favourite musician, he was once an Angry Man who didn’t love himself  just the way he is.

In the 1970’s, after battling the Pressure of depression For The Longest Time, he decided to Say Goodbye to Hollywood and down some furniture polish. Thankfully, he Didn’t Get It Right The First Time.  Movin’ Out of this suicidal phase, Billy has been able to channel his sadness into more great hits that speak to people.  He’s been Keeping the Faith and even incorporated his suicide note into one of his songs.

While he is now in a New York State of Mind making incredible classical music, if you think he may Go To Extremes and get another DUI, You May Be Right.

This is just a small sampling of high profile people dealing with mental health issues and despite their troubles were able to achieve great success.  Their inspiring stories of recovery give me so much hope.  If I keep at it, with any luck one day I too might get to be on a list of famous people with depression and have my very own crazy anecdote that inspires a new generation of depressed people!