“I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.”
–Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki on his experience living with depression.
Many performers in today’s day and age are very open about their struggles with mental health issues, fighting to end the stigma attached to mental health. Demi Lovato has become somewhat of an icon for recovery from a variety of hardships, including bipolar disorder and self-harm. Lena Dunham has always been outspoken about her experience living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Olivia Munn of The Newsroom has opened up about her struggles with anxiety and trichotillomania.
Seeing that celebrities struggle with this issues can be a huge source of hope for those of us who share these struggles. I personally find a great deal of strength and inspiration in David Bowie. Bowie’s shyness and anxiety are exactly what motivated him to create the characters he played in his music. Much of his music deals with the feelings of abandonment, fear, and isolation, particularly the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Startdust and the Spiders from Mars. The final song on this album, Rock and Roll Suicide, addresses in vivid detail the sense of isolation that is often felt by those struggling with depression. Seeing Bowie’s success in spite of his obstacles is a huge part of what inspired me to begin my studies in music and theatre; if someone as eccentric and boisterous as The Goblin King can find strength in himself despite his inner demons, there’s no reason we can’t do the same.
Bowie said once of his music:
“On the other hand, what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.”
Performance can provide an outlet for these often overwhelming feelings, a way to express them that sometimes words just can’t. It can also provide an escape, if only temporary, from these feelings; it can provide a world where we are not afraid, where the demons quiet themselves for a while. It can provide a sense of serenity that can be difficult to come by. For some, it can assuage the need to hide away that anxiety and depression can sometimes bring on by providing the opportunity to be something other than oneself for a while.
For more celebrities struggling with mental illness and their stories of success and recovery, click here