With the recent news of Catherine Zeta-Jones confirming she has Bipolar Disorder, I was interested to see how many celebrities and well known iconic figures in our society deal with the illness. I was always very found of Ms. Zeta- Jones acting and singing talent but she also seems to be just a beautiful person on the inside and out and a great family person. She has demonstrated such strength caring for her husband, Michael Douglas, during his battle with cancer. This can take a toll on any person but a person with bipolar disorder has an even greater struggle with the stress. I applaud the fact that she was strong enough to also come out to the public and be so open about her disorder. After doing some digging on the net I was surprised to find out just how many famous people in our past and present society battle or battled bipolar disorder and also gained great success and respect from so many people. I started thinking if more and more of these "icons" started to come out on record and say they suffer from it and they have received successful treatment, then it might be the right direction to help fight some of the stigma related to the illness.
I think one of things that has hindered breaking down the barriers is that so many people are afraid to admit they suffer from it and are ashamed to get help. I do understand why people do not like to share something so private and painful with so many because I myself have been judged harshly by my own peers at school, later in the workplace, many times at my local church, and surprisingly enough my own family members. It takes some time just to accept that you have the illness but it can sometimes take longer for others to understand it and then to accept as just another medical condition that requires treatment. There is only one person in my entire life that once they found out I did have bipolar disorder never blinked nor treated me any different as the minute before he knew about it. That person is my wonderful husband and even after two years later he sees me and not my illness. He is a wonderful support and there are not enough words to ever tell him how much I appreciate how much of a support to me he is in my life.
Patty Duke was really the first celebrity that I knew of that came out on record about the illness and has been a great advocate and educator of the mental illness and I applaud her courage and the help that she has brought to the community. Her many interviews on Larry King Live through the years helped me get through some very tough times in my life. I later heard that Carrie Fisher suffered from it and wrote a book about her experiences with it. For some reason this made me feel more normal because one of my favorite movies is Star Wars and it gave me a connection. I grew up watching the Star War movies so this made the illness more widespread in society and something I could hang onto for hope in my life that I was not the freak I thought I was at that time. A few other well know celebrities that have confirmed they have bipolar disorder are Ned Beatty, Linda Hamiliton, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tim Burton, Ben Stiller, and the late Rosemary Clooney just to mention a few. Sometimes it just helps to know you are not alone and even though I never met or knew any of these stars for some reason it gave me comfort. These are all intelligent and successful people and if society could just stop harshly judging anyone that suffers from any mental illness and try to educate themselves, I think more people would stop and get help without the shame. I found more interesting links of celebrities with bipolar disorder at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_affected_by_bipolar_disorder. I hope you enjoy finding out about the very interesting people that have survived living with bipolar disorder.