We hear more and more these days about mental health issues, with celebrities coming out and talking frankly about their own challenges with mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate – it can affect the young or the old, the rich or the poor and the most successful of people. Many people may be concerned that the diagnosis means they will not be able to pursue their dreams. The six people in this list will prove that it’s not the case.
Demi Lovato knew from a very young age that something wasn’t right and she has struggled with eating disorders, self harm and addiction. In 2010 Demi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that she will have to manage for the rest of her life. Despite this, she has gone on to become a successful actor, singer, songwriter, writer and philanthropist. She is heavily involved in advocacy for bullying, education, healthcare and mental health issues.
Many will know that Drew Barrymore has led a troubled life. Coming from seven generations of actors, she was introduced to acting before she turned a year old, she was smoking by 9, drinking by 11 and taking drugs by 13. At 14 she spent 18 months in a mental health facility and later returned to the facility following a suicide attempt. Considered “untouchable” by Hollywood for a number of years, she began her own production company aged 20 and has gone on to become a highly successful actor, director, producer, writer, model, photographer and philanthropist.
You may recognise Brittany for her roles in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, but what you may not know is that she struggled with anorexia, depression, body dysmorphia and self-harm for many years. Throughout her school years she was bullied relentlessly by another girl, who both verbally and physically abused her. A successful actor and singer, she has also co-founded the Love is Louder movement – a platform to support those who are struggling with bullying, isolation, discrimination, depression and low self-esteem.
Highly successful model and actor Olivia Munn has struggled for years with anxiety and trichotillomania. The trichotillomania manifests in her pulling out her own eyelashes, something which she says is not painful, but results in her needing to wear false eyelashes. This common form of anxiety is one that not many people have heard of however. Olivia is involved in animal and environmental welfare as well as authoring two books.
Multiple Emmy award nominee and creator, writer and star of the HBO series “Girls”, Lena Dunham has lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since she was a child. Whilst there are many ways in which this disorder affects people, the ways in which it manifested in Lena included her obsession with the number 8 and an irrational fear of some illnesses, foods and milk. Lena is a passionate supporter of LGBTQI and civil rights, ALS and the creative rights.
Supermodel, actor, singer and fashion designer, Cara had a breakdown in her teens. She believes it started around the age of 8, during which time her mother was struggling with drug addiction. Cara did not take action with regard to her mental health until she was 16, when she sought counselling. She is now involved in Girl Up, a United Nations campaign working to empower girls, running programs to help make sure they are educated, healthy and safe.
These women are all achieving great things despite having grown up living with a mental health issue. It shows that with the right assistance, treatment and support, a successful and happy life is possible.
Please talk to the people around you or to an experienced counsellor if you, or anyone you know, is experiencing mental health issues.
Sharon Chisholm is an award-winning coach, mental health advocate, writer and speaker living on the east coast of Australia. She works with female entrepreneurs and small business owners helping them with a variety of challenges from low confidence and self-esteem, through to mind health issues such as anxiety and depression. Sharon writes for a number of publications and regularly speaks about her own lived experience with mental illness, as well as hosting her own podcast called the “Mental as Anything Podcast”. She also facilitates workshops on mental health in the workplace and advises government bodies on how they can better support the small business owner living with mind health issues.