Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mental Illness April 13, 2011Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Bipolar Disorder, mental illness.
Tags: Bipolar Disorder, mental illness
Mental Illness can happen to anyone in any situation, given enough stress. The latest victim is a very public figure: Catherine Zeta-Jones. The tabloids say that the stress of her personal life pushed her into what used to be called a nervous breakdown. Nowadays it has a name, and that name for her is Bipolar Two.
While Catherine appears to have entered the facility voluntarily, I’m sure that she and her family considered their decision carefully and deliberately before deciding that hospitalization would be the best course of action. A terrible dilemma- whether to go or not- was magnified by her status as a celebrity.
The celebrities who told the world about their mental illness and escaped the situation unscathed are few and far between. Not only is she a beautiful woman who is getting older, but now she has the label “unstable” attached to her name forever.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness knows it isn’t good for the ego to be labeled as damaged goods. “I should have been stronger. I should have been able to shoulder my responsibilities without cracking.” These thoughts and more come bubbling to the surface when the diagnosis of mental illness is made. Like the rest of us, she will think it is her fault that she broke under pressure.
I think things will be worse for her in some ways than they were for me when I was admitted to a mental hospital. Admittedly when I was diagnosed I didn’t exactly yell it from the tree tops. But I also didn’t have to sneak into the hospital as quietly as I could, aware that a crowd of paparazzi waited in the wings to make money on my personal trauma.
The good news is that her illness will serve as crash course in mental illness to a very large audience. People who had vaguely heard the term Bipolar will now learn about the illness. They will hopefully recognize mental illness simply for what it is: an illness.
The bad news is that her illness will almost certainly be thought of as a sign of weakness and possibly even moral bankruptcy. She will probably lose some of her fan base because of her perceived weakness. Producers might not want to risk their money on an unstable celebrity. So her “outing” may be the end of her career.
Like her husband and his lung cancer, I hope she will choose to use her illness as a “teaching moment” to the world at large, rather than try to hide from it. The cat’s out of the bag. What to do about it is the next question.