Mental illness can totally suck and make you feel totally alone. That feeling can be made worse by the lack of public discussion around the topic. Because there’s still such stigma around discussing mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, many people keep their suffering a secret. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Illness shows 20% of youth ages 13 to 18 suffer from severe mental illness. According to Mental Health America, depression in teens is increasing at an “alarming” rate. Luckily, these celebs opened up about their battle with mental illness to show you that it can affect anyone. Check out these open and honest stories about how celebs dealt and are dealing with mental illness.
Justin Bieber spoke up about depression and feeling weighed down by expectations last week when he canceled all future meet-and-greets with fans on his Purpose World Tour because they were too much to handle. In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Justin said the fan meetings leave him feeling “drained and unhappy.”
“I always leave feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression,” he wrote. “The pressure of meting people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be is so much for me to handle and a lot on my shoulders.”
This isn’t the first time Justin has opened up about mental illness, though. Last year, Justin told NME that he gets depressed “all the time” because he feels isolated.
Justin told NME that he tries to put things in perspective when he’s overwhelmed with depression.
“If I wanna do this, there’s gonna be darkness thrown at me,” he said.
Rowan said she had so many emotions over the course of 2015, and even sometimes had multiple emotions all at the same time. The ups and downs, Rowan concluded, can be put in perspective even if they seem like too much.
“As I found myself, this year in particular, going through ups and downs with depression, I realized that instead of rejecting and ostracizing these teenage feelings (human feelings), I can learn to love the intensity of them and know that everything is momentary,” Rowan wrote. “I learned this year that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive. They can exist within me at the same time in the same moment.”
These realizations, Rowan said, lead her to understand accepting and processing her feelings is more helpful than just blocking them out.
Though the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year and 1 in 5 youth ages 13 to 18 experience a severe mental illness in a year, Halsey told Elle that being a bipolar, bisexual, biracial woman makes her sometimes feel “inconvenient.”
“This plight, like you said, of being the ‘inconvenient woman,’ just comes from people expecting me to…I’m not always going to be agreeable, you know? I’m not always going to be calm,” she said. “I’m entitled to my emotions and, unfortunately, because of the circumstance that I deal with, it’s a little more than other people”
Halsey has found a community on the Internet though, one where she’s able to channel her emotions and connect with people who relate to her.
Being successful and beautiful doesn’t make you immune from depression. Model and actress Cara Delevingne opened up at the 2015 Women in the World Summit about dealing withdepression for years, which at times made her feel suicidal.
“I think I pushed myself so far [at school] that I got to the point where I had a mental breakdown…I was completely suicidal, I didn’t want to live any more,” Cara told actor Rupert Everett at the summit.
Feeling like she was the only one suffering from mental illness, Cara said, made it worse.
“I thought that I was completely alone. I also realized how lucky I was, and what a wonderful family and wonderful friends I had, but that didn’t matter. I wanted the world to swallow me up, and nothing seemed better to me than death.”
Cara said her depression didn’t let up when she became a successful model, but instead lived inside her while she put on a brave face. Now though, Cara is doing better, she told Rupert, and she got there by opening up to a few close friends.
“It’s about finding people around you who have your best interests at heart. I had a lot of people around me who were just after what I gave them…not looking after me,” she said. “So it’s about finding people who care about you, and support you. And I’ve now been able to become a support for other people, as well.”
The Girls creator and actress is often looked to as a voice of her generation, so it makes sense that she would have something to say when it comes to making mental health a non-taboo topic. Lena took to Instagram (is there a trend here?) to talk about how exercise has helped her cope with anxiety.
According to Harvard Medical School, a regular exercise program can improve the mood of people who have mild to moderate depression. The reason for this is likely a boost in endorphins, mood enhancing chemicals in your body, or because exercise increases the flow of a different happy-inducing neurotransmitter.
Lena, who said she went 16 medicated years before using exercise to cope with mental illness, said she makes sure to carve out gym time even when she’s super busy to keep her anxiety in check.
“Promised myself I would not let exercise be the first thing to go by the wayside when I got busy with Girls Season 5 and here is why: it has helped with my anxiety in ways I never dreamed possible,” she wrote. “To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did.”
Singer Demi Lovato is so passionate about tearing down the stigma around mental illness that she started a campaign to boost awareness. Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health urges people to talk about their mental illnesses in order to normalize it. The reason she’s so passionate is because she suffered from mental illness for years without having the words to describe it.
“When you don’t know what’s happening, why you’re feeling certain ways, and you don’t have the answers yet, people tend to self-medicate, which is exactly what I did,” Demi told Women’s Health Magazine. Demi was also diagnosed with addiction, bulimia, and cutting. After those diagnoses, while scary at first, she was able to focus on gaining control and coping.
“Now I know that when I focus on my treatment plan with my team and my support system, I’m able to not only maintain a healthy mind, but I’m able to maintain my sobriety,” she said.
To help others get to that point, Demi partnered with Be Vocal to get the word out.
“In the end, I was so relieved to get the diagnosis I did,” she told Refinery 29.
Lady Gaga has been candid about many personal issues, including her life-long battle with anxiety and depression. Last year, Gaga told Billboard that she’s coped with mental illness all her life, and still deals with it daily.
Through her music, though, Gaga has been able to relate to fans and hopes to show young people that it’s OK to struggle.
“I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal,” she told Billboard. “We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That’s not human.”
Gaga has also channeled her energy into acting, recently, something she said has helped her mental health a lot. She even has tried to stop her medication, but said she stuck with it at the recommendation of her doctor.
“I have tried a lot of things, but there is something about acting that has really helped,” shesaid. “I am a Stefani-Gaga hybrid and I want you to know the real me.”
In Gilmore Girls, Jared Padalecki plays the often-mopey Dean, who’s not always so great at expressing his feelings. In real life, though, Jared has taken a stand for making discussions around mental illness more common.
Jared launched a T-shirt campaign with represent.com that benefits the mental illness support organization To Write Love On Her Arms after he was diagnosed with depression. The shirts urge people living with mental illness to “Always Keep Fighting.”
“It kind of hit me like a sack of bricks. I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point,” Jared told Variety. “It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.”
To make people more aware that depression can and does happen to anyone, Jared launched the T-shirt line. Looking at support for other diseases or illnesses, Jared said he thought it might be helpful for people suffering from anxiety or depression to see they are normal and not alone.
“I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war,” Jared said to Variety. “You’re here. You might not win every battle. There are going to be some really tough days. There might be several tough times in any given single day, but hopefully, this will help somebody to think, ‘This isn’t easy; it is a fight, but I’m going to keep fighting,’ and that’s why we did this shirt.”
On television, Troian plays Pretty Little Liars‘ sharply intelligent Spencer Hastings, who over the years deals with a prescription pill problem and being admitted to Radley Sanitarium. Like her on-screen life, Troian’s real life is not without hardship. In 2014, Troian told Seventeen she had an eating disorder and self-harmed when she was a teen.
Troian said she used to intentionally hurt herself if she didn’t do well in school.
“I started self-harming when I was a junior,” Troian said. “I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school…I didn’t know what was right and what was wrong, so I think I created this bizarre system of checks and balances to create order in my world. But it really backfired.”
Even though she’s past her teen years now, Troian said she still struggles. On the PLL set, Troian said she sometimes feels like she doesn’t measure up.
“Sometimes I’ve felt like a fraud. Like, I’m not like these other girls — I don’t dress like that and don’t know how to do my hair,” she said.
To fight that feeling, Troian tries to be as true to herself as possible off set. “The minute I’m off that stage, I try to get as ‘me’ as possible. I do that by piling on my black eyeliner, and I put on my ripped tights” to feel more Troian than Spencer, she said.
Rapper Angel Haze has not only opened up about their own depression and mental health issues, but called teenage depression rates an epidemic.
In a 2014 column for Noisey, Angel wrote that they lived with an eating disorder as a teen. They also said that year they battled unnamed mental health struggles. Through therapy, though, Angel said they were able to feel much better.
Because they’ve been open about their mental illness, Angel said they’ve heard from many young fans saying they, too, are depressed or self harm. Angel’s heard from so many, they wrote, that they think depression is an epidemic.
“Teenage depression is becoming an epidemic. So many fans have written to me about self-harming and anorexia,” they said. “Read the Twitters read the Tumblrs, see the messed up thoughts that go on in this generation.”
In their column, Angel urged readers to not be afraid to ask for help.
“I haven’t starved myself for years now, and although I have ups and downs, it’s not as bad as it was,” angel wrote. “I didn’t get better because I’m famous, I got better because I got help and started to learn how to be happy. I just want others to do the same.”
If you’re depressed or struggling with any mental illness, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Like these stars who have been there, it is possible to manage your mental health and feel better. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. There are even some mental health apps that can help you through a crisis. But like these stars said, there’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re going through mental illness, let someone you trust know. Most likely, they won’t judge you or think less of you — they’ll want to help.