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Mental Illness and Hollywood

To be honest, this is a topic that I have been passionate about for years and something I have wanted to talk about. However, I have been hesitant to do so because I feel that we don't see the reality of how mental illness is woven into Hollywood. Many of us will watch our favorite shows with the actors we love or listen to our favorite songs by the artists who make us feel, without seeing that artist as a human. As a human who may be dealing with some rough and real things like a mental illness. Often times I hear people saying things like, 'well they have all the money in the world, so there is no problem,' or 'they have all the resources at their fingertips so why wouldn't they just seek help.'

So often we invalidate someone's mental illness or ability to cope due to their financial status.

The truth is having money doesn’t stop you from dealing with a mental illness, and just because you have resources at your disposal doesn’t mean you will know how and when to reach out and use them. When I hear people talk about celebrities like or judge them based on financial income, my heart hurts for the celebrity struggling.

Now I would be lying if I said I never judged a celebrity’s actions and not looked at the heart behind the behavior. I clearly remember in 2007 when Britney Spears had her breakdown and making light of it and thinking she has completely lost it. It wasn’t until I was older and started studying psychology and mental health that I realized, there is so much more beyond the surface. Then I started thinking to myself, what would happen if I started seeing celebrities as humans and through a lens of compassion and kindness. When I started doing that, I began realizing that celebrities deal with mental illness and struggle with seeking proper help.

Did you know that most singers (including Beyonce, Britney Spears, and Selena Gomez) deal with paralyzing anxiety? So, what we are seeing on stage is a persona they put on to perform, but then off stage, they are a completely different person and often extremely shy. Did you know that some of the funniest comedians deal with debilitating depression and telling jokes is a way for them to cope with the dark thoughts and feelings they have on a daily basis? Did you know some of the most famous artists and songwriters deal with some sort of bi-polar or behavioral/emotional disorder and their best works come from a manic state?

I believe that we need to start seeing those in Hollywood as humans who are walking through some real things, that even money can’t get them out of. With that being said, I also believe that we need to stop assuming we have the right to those struggles because they are a celebrity. Here are some things I want to us to remember when talking about mental illness in Hollywood:

  1. We don't deserve the right to someone’s vulnerability, even if they post daily on social media. We often feel that we have the right to know the details of the breakdown, or how 'their people' are handling it and we don’t.

  2. We don't get to judge someone's behavior that may have been caught on camera for a couple seconds, because they are a celebrity who 'signed up for this.'

3. We don’t have the right to dehumanize a celebrity and devalue their struggle because they are better off than us.

The stars we love to watch, we love to listen too, and we love to criticize are humans and we have got to start reminding ourselves of that.

Until Next Time

Stasia Brokas

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