Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, is very common: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly three percent of Americans have (or will be) diagnosed with this condition. Despite its prevalence, bipolar disorder is still shrouded in shame and stigma.
“Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is [a condition] characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels,” the NIMH explains. “These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone… [and they can] affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
Here are 10 celebrities who live with (and have spoken out about ) bipolar disorder.
After years of struggling with addiction, Demi Lovato, 28, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011. “Looking back it makes sense,” Lovato told People shortly after leaving the Timberline Knolls treatment facility, where they were diagnosed. “There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I’d be up until 5:30 in the morning.” But the good news is that with Lovato’s diagnosis came hope. “I remember smiling and thinking great, OK, so there’s not anything wrong with me as a person,” they said, adding, “I can do something to fix it. I don’t have to be like this forever.”
“If you know someone or if you’re dealing with it yourself, just know that it is possible to live well,” they told People in 2016. “I’m living proof of that.”
During a 2019 interview with David Letterman, Kanye West, 44, revealed he had bipolar disorder. However, mania isn’t all fun and games, as West told Letterman. During an “episode,” everything can feel like “a conspiracy.” “You feel the government is putting chips in your head,” he said. “You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things.”
In the 2008 film Acting Class of 1977, Mel Gibson, 65, revealed he lives with bipolar disorder. “I had really good highs but some very low lows,” Gibson said. “I found out recently I’m manic depressive.”
Mariah Carey, 51, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, when she was hospitalized for a mental breakdown, but she didn’t talk about it publicly until 2018 because she “didn’t want to believe it.”
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” Carey told People. “It was too heavy a burden to carry, and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me, and I got back to doing what I love—writing songs and making music.”
What’s more, thanks to therapy and medication, Carey is now in a good place and is comfortable speaking about her condition. “I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder,” she told People. She’s also become something of an advocate. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”
Catherine Zeta-Jones, 51, went public with her bipolar diagnosis in 2011 after a brief inpatient stay to receive care for her condition. “After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check into a mental health facility … to treat her bipolar II disorder,” Zeta-Jones’ publicist said in a statement. Soon thereafter, Zeta-Jones began speaking about her diagnosis.
“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable,” she told InStyle in 2012. “I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who didn’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
Sinead O’Connor is no stranger to personal struggles. The 54-year-old singer has had a tough and tumultuous life. She survived mental illness, childhood abuse, and multiple suicide attempts. And while the weight of these struggles was (and remains) a lot, in 2007 O’Connor told Oprah Winfrey that she now takes antidepressants and mood stabilizers. “Anything is an improvement when you’ve been in desolation,” O’Connor told Winfrey of the medication she was on, but “it doesn’t mean you don’t have lumps and bumps.”
Best known for her role in the Terminator movies, Linda Hamilton, 64, has been living with bipolar disorder for decades. The 54-year-old actress was diagnosed in the ’90s. However, Hamilton kept her diagnosis a secret until she felt like she had her condition under control.
“My quality of life is more amazing than I ever could’ve imagined in those 20 years of struggling with illness,” Hamilton revealed in a 2004 interview. “In those 20 years, I did not know the meaning of the word hope. It was just a bleak, difficult existence. With all the gifts, with all the successes that I had, it was still an incredibly bleak way of living and I want to be a messenger of hope,” Hamilton continued. “I want to destigmatize the words mental illness. Somebody needs to come out and make this OK for people to talk about and get help and take advantage of the resources.”
Arguably one of the most revered actresses (and pop culture) figures of our time, Carrie Fisher lived with bipolar disorder, famously writing about her condition in Postcards From the Edge and Surrender the Pink.
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder,” Fisher wrote in Wishful Drinking. “In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls.”
She also told the Huffington Post in 2015 that, “at times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”
In 2019, Grammy-nominated singer Bebe Rexha, 31, shared her bipolar diagnosis on Twitter, revealing that for the longest time, she didn’t realize why she felt so sick. “I felt lows that made me not want to leave my house or be around people and why I felt highs that wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me stop working or creating music. Now I know why,” she wrote. “I’m bipolar and I’m not ashamed anymore,” she stated, adding that her next album would be her favorite album ever because she wasn’t “holding anything back.”
In 2018, Stranger Things star David Harbour opened up about life with bipolar disorder, and the incident which caused him to be diagnosed. “I was sober for like a year and a half, and I was 25, and I actually did have a manic episode, and I was diagnosed as bipolar,” SELF reports Harbour told Marc Maron. “I really had, like, a bit of a break where I thought I was in connection to some sort of god that I wasn’t really in connection to… It was like I had all the answers, suddenly.”
Since then, he’s spoken about his condition on a few separate occasions.
Next up, here are 9 common myths and facts about bipolar disorder.
Original posted at parade.com