I started this blog for 3 reasons:
- After 25+ years of bottling up these issues and hiding them away, I thought it may be cathartic to speak openly about them.
- In speaking openly, I hope that it may help / be of some comfort to others trying to deal with similar issues.
- I believe it’s vitally important to encourage discussion and awareness of issues such as these.
As I’ve previously stated, the initial reaction, primarily from friends and family at this stage, has been astonishing. Many more people than I ever suspected deal with similar issues on a frequent basis and some of the conversations I’ve had since publishing the first blog post have been eye-opening to say the least.
Additionally, I’m continually research stories of people in the public eye who are dealing with similar issues. Whilst there are instances of people who shared their stories some time ago (Stephen Fry being an example which immediately springs to mind), I feel that it is only during recent years, certainly the past 4-5, that this has really progressed to a significant degree, with a number of celebrities now seemingly more comfortable in sharing their issues. This is vitally important and especially brave on their part. Whilst there is certainly more tolerance and understanding these days, unfortunately there are still a huge amount of keyboard warriors / trolls who take great delight in adopting an online pseudonym and criticising from afar. I was nervous in sharing my first post with a small audience so God knows how people in the public eye cope with such criticism. Thankfully they do though and it is reassuring to see some brave enough to put their head above the parapet in order to raise awareness.
The purpose of this post is to highlight some of these instances. As with previous posts, I haven’t included examples solely relating to depression. I certainly don’t wish to ignore that hideous condition or dismiss the huge impact it has on the lives of many people; it’s just that I don’t suffer from it. My issues are with anxiety and low self-esteem and I’m focussing on highlighting celebrities who have gone public on dealing with similar issues.
Jason Manford ( link here )
Jason shared his struggles regarding anxiety and depression earlier this year. His comments regarding men not talking enough about mental health are very important and his views on the influence of social media are especially pertinent in this day and age.
Perrie Edwards ( link here )
As one quarter of the biggest girl group on the planet right now, with millions in the bank and a Premiership footballer boyfriend, it would be easy to assume that all the members of Little Mix will be loving life right now, though that clearly isn’t the case. Perrie shared details of her battle with anxiety and panic attacks on social media earlier this year in what is a searingly honest post. Her comments on the importance of talking about these issues really do resonate with me.
Jesy Nelson ( link here )
One of Perrie’s Little Mix bandmates, quite how Jesy has managed to remain in the public eye without suffering a breakdown is beyond me, given the ridiculous amounts of vile abuse and trolling she’s experienced since being thrust into the limelight in 2011. She has spoken to a degree of the effects of social media and being body-conscious over the years and a soon-to-be-aired BBC documentary she has made on body image and mental health will certainly make for compelling viewing. I detest the keyboard warrior / trolling attitude which social media allows these days and I can’t think of many who have suffered more from this than Jesy.
Nadiya Hussain ( link here )
The BBC deserve huge credit for showing a series of programmes on mental health issues earlier this year. The documentary highlighting Alistair Campbell’s battle with depression ( further detail here ) made for essential viewing, despite being an uncomfortable watch at times, whilst ‘A Royal Team Talk’ ( further detail here ), where Prince William discussed mental health issues with Gareth Southgate, Peter Crouch, Thierry Henry, Danny Rose, and Jermaine Jenas, also provided an excellent insight. However, for me, the programme which resonated the most was ‘Nadiya: Anxiety and Me’, in which the Great British Bake Off winner discussed her lifelong struggle with “extreme anxiety”. Also addressing panic attacks and a feeling of not being good enough, this was a warts and all account of living with such issues.
Simon Gregson ( link here )
A star of Coronation Street for 30 years, Simon’s struggles with depression have previously been documented and he opened up earlier this year (following the Nadiya documentary) regarding his issues with anxiety.
Chris Evans ( link here )
This relates to the Chris Evans who plays Captain America in the Marvel superhero movies, rather than the car-loving DJ from Warrington. Perhaps you’re currently thinking the same as me? “Chris Evans? Captain America? The muscle-bound, handsome, multi-millionaire star of some of the highest-grossing movies of all time? Surely he must lead the perfect life?” Seemingly not and it’s vitally important to recognise that ordinary people are behind the big screen heroes we know and love. Chris has struggled with anxiety, especially when needing to address press events and public speaking, and his issues caused him to initially turn down the role of Captain America. Thankfully he realised that to be a bad move though it is interesting to note that he still suffers from these issues.
Adele ( link here )
Being the most successful British music star on the planet (along with Ed Sheeran) clearly doesn’t make you immune to mental health issues. Despite selling millions of records and selling out arenas across the globe, Adele has admitted to suffering from anxiety, stage fright and panic attacks.
Jonny Wilkinson ( link here )
Difficult to imagine England’s World Cup hero being riddled with anxiety prior to every match but that’s what Jonny describes here. Again, the importance of opening up figures largely.
Ryan Reynolds ( link here )
Ryan Reynolds. One of the biggest movie stars on the planet. He is Deadpool for crying out loud! Handsome. Charming and very funny. Multi-millionaire. Move star wife. Seemingly a nice guy who has it all. Now add anxiety sufferer to that list. Interesting to read here about some of the coping mechanisms Ryan turned to in order to overcome these issues, including partying hard throughout his 20s (spoiler alert – it didn’t work particularly well).
Fearne Cotton ( link here )
Fearne is one of the most important celebrity advocates for discussing mental health issues. She has been very open in discussing her issues with anxiety, panic attacks, imposter syndrome, and depression. She has written books on the subject and has produced podcast episodes discussing issues with other celebrities.
There are many other cases though to share each one with detail will result in an epic post. If you’re interested in other celebs who have been brave enough to open up, these include:
Keira Knightley ( link here )
Leigh Griffiths ( link here )
Ellie Goulding ( link here )
Miley Cyrus ( link here )
Lady Gaga ( link here )
Will Young ( link here )
Shirley Ballas ( link here )
Ricky Hatton ( link here )
Emma Watson ( link here )
I’m sure there are many others but these are instances which I’ve bookmarked over the past few years. The point of this post is that, whilst far from easy to address, it is vitally important to try to reach out and share your issues with others if you are dealing with any of this. Whether that be a trusted family member or friend, a group of friends, an online forum, or any other available mechanism, please try it. I have found starting this blog to be cathartic and hugely beneficial and I’m sure that will be the case for most of the names listed within this post who have decided to shine a light on their problems. We certainly live in a more knowledgeable, accepting and empathetic society these days and hopefully that can only improve over time.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this – I really do appreciate it.
Until next time.
Another great post Mick. There is a guy in NZ who is really respected for his openness and passion for supporting people with good mental health ..check out Mike king ..he recently was voted NZer of the year . I am staggered that NZ has one of the most appalling suicide rates but also hopeful that a lot is being done
Thanks Alison. The NZ stat is staggering – really find that hard to believe. I’ll take a look at Mike King’s work.