Celebrities and Mental Disorders

noia maca amb trastorn

Illustration © Sergi Balfegó

I’m reading in La Vanguardia, in the salmon leaves, the personal problems – drugs, delinquency, diseases … – of actors and actresses of Hollywood who, despite these, have triumphed in their careers. There are those who live or have lived with a mental illness. Jim Carrey overcame a depression and Emma Thompson suffered one when separating of the also actor Kenneth Branagh. Uma Thurman developed a disease-related concern for her physical appearance and Catherine Zeta-Jones has been treated for her bipolar disorder.

I was looking at the photographs of these actors and actresses, of those who have suffered mental illnesses and those who have not. And I myself found myself staring at Catherine Zeta-Jones with a little fear, while perhaps the crime-related actor was looking at him with some anger, and those who had had problems with drugs, with a little pity. I immediately thought of the association “mental disorder – fear of the person with mental disorder”. And since I myself have had a diagnosis of mental disorder, I did not like to think that I can arouse fear in people.

At first, looking at the photo, I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones pretty, nice … But if I looked at her thinking that I had a mental disorder, I was awakened by a certain feeling of fear. The fear and uncertainty of not knowing how a person with mental disorder acts and not knowing very well where to “take it”. It is a feeling that appears, that I do not know if it is atavistic – from distant times it is very normal to be afraid or suspicious of something unknown and uncertain nature – but that, in any case, I wanted to supplant another positive feeling.

Thus, I have thought that perhaps the person with mental disorder is someone who attacks himself through himself, without the need for an external instrument, such as drugs, money theft – although he may also fall into this – And that those actors / actresses with mental disorder were hurting themselves through something internal to them: their thoughts and their emotions. All this (affects) us and end in a “mental and emotional mess,” full of negative thoughts and emotions. Obviously, not all mental disorders consist of making a mess of ideas and feelings, but in one way or another, there is an emotional and mental imbalance.

The fact of thinking: “All right, this person makes a mental mess with ease,” it have been a much closer and human way of seeing the actress and much more positive than with the fear of before, that so easily relates to the words “mental disorder.” Somehow, I have “ironized” the feeling of fear, I have not allowed it to take over me and I have made it into a more positive feeling. You can have these mental and emotional problems, so it does not matter whether you have a diagnosis of mental disorder or you do not have it.

I think it would also be good that I came to think more positively of the other problems of the actors and actresses that I have looked at, but I have wanted to focus on the aspect that I know the most.

From all this, I draw two valuations:

* Even people with a diagnosis of mental disorder can stigmatize the person with mental disorder.

* To overcome it, it is good to “iron out” the stigma and perceive the person with mental disorder as a person, rather than as a “label.”

Do you agree?

Laia Azcona

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