Written by Meagan Anderson
When I began struggling with my mental health I did not tell anyone. It took me a long time to open up to even the most important people in my life. I thought that if they knew what I was struggling with they would think I was weak, and I could not deal with people thinking anything bad about me. Other people’s opinions about me became a fixation at the peak of my mental illness in college. I needed to be liked by everyone but when people actually expressed affection for me my mental illness made it difficult to believe them. I faked confidence and pretended that I was excelling and becoming someone that people thought was perfect and that could be admired. However, now I realize that my battle with mental illness and the strength I have to deal with it every day is what makes me admirable, not being fake happy or perfect.
I give a big portion of the credit for this transformation of mindset to an unlikely source… celebrities.
Reading articles about celebrities’ mental health stories became a frequent pastime for me over the past few years. In moments where my mental illness felt like it couldn’t get any worse, I would look towards the stars for any glimmer of inspiration. I would read list after list about celebrities who have publically dealt with mental illness. From there I would look up interviews and hear their inspiring words. Doing this helped me in two major ways. First, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my struggles. Secondly, it taught me that it is okay to open up about your struggles. I learned that people will not think less of you because of your illness and in some cases your story, even if you are not a celebrity, may be able to help someone else.
Every story I read from sci-fi princess Carrie Fisher’s experience with bipolar disorder, to fantasy creators like J.K. Rowling and Jared Padalecki’s struggles with depression, or talented musicians like Elton John and Demi Lovato’s battles with bulimia gave me more courage to speak out about my own experiences.
I knew if there was any group of people that had to care about what other people thought it was celebrities. They make their entire career off of being admired by their audiences. So I’m sure many of them went through similar phases as me, where they were not sure if going public about their mental illness was the right idea.
So, I just want to say to them.
Thank you for making the decision that you did. Your choice to talk openly and honestly about your mental illnesses allowed me to open up about my own and get the help that I needed. Without your stories and words, I think that myself and many other people would be in very different places. The choices you made to use your platform to speak about mental health is courageous, kind, and will have a great impact for the people in the world who are struggling and need words of encouragement.