As the winter that is the stigma surrounding mental health begins to thaw, individuals positioned in the centre of the public eye are volunteering accounts of their own internalised struggles in solidarity with mental health sufferers. Lady Gaga, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson are just a few of the many influential celebrities at the forefront of the battle against suffering in silence.
Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, is renowned for her promotion of an inclusive discourse about mental illness, famously vocalising her own struggles with PTSD following sexual assault. Her candid speeches are as raw as they are genuine, conveying an earnest desire to aid the recovery of fellow survivors. In a speech for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, after accepting the award for kindness, she implored that “we need to share our stories so that global mental health no longer resides and festers in darkness.”
In an interview with Mr. Porter’s Journal, Ryan Reynolds described his struggle with anxiety as a life-long battle. His acknowledgment that “everyone carries their own bag of rocks around”. with his personal burden stemming from a difficult childhood relationship with his “tough” late father, is an important sentiment made in solidarity with other people battling inner demons.
Other anxiety sufferers include Selena Gomez, Emma Stone, and Dwayne Johnson. Gomez’s battle with lupus has forced her to undergo chemotherapy and has plagued her with panic attacks and depression, whilst Stone and Johnson have both confessed that at times they have been so incapacitated by the crippling onslaught of anxiety that they were incapable of leaving their homes. Johnson’s popularised epithet, ‘The Rock’, is deceptive in its dehumanisation: he too, like many others, has faced the very human struggles of battling depression following his mother’s attempted suicide, disclosing that at certain points of his life he was “crying constantly.”
Prince Harry, too, has been inexorably affected by tragedy. When he was just twelve, news broke that his mother, Princess Diana, had been killed in a car crash. Her death was mourned globally, but for Harry, the task of facing the reality of her passing was a tribulation too monstrous to bear; he claims that he neglected to address his grief for two decades, choosing rather to avoid “thinking about [it].” He admits that the collaborative effect of bearing bereavement and living under the public eye’s incessant scrutiny has left him “very close to complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” Harry and the other celebrities are amongst the 450 million worldwide who suffer from mental illness.
Through publicising their struggles, celebrities can raise awareness for the cause and augment acceptance through normalisation. The opening of this invaluable channel of communication has afforded victims silenced by their internalised suffering the opportunity to regain their voices.
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