3 Celebrities Who Do Not Glamorize Mental Illness

No sugarcoating here, thanks.
July 22, 2019
10 mins read

It is easy to double tap a photo of a friend settled into a linen hammock beneath the sun and luscious, green palm trees. It is even easier to retweet the latest meme circling the Internet. Social media is a major part of most people’s lives, but rarely do the crippling woes of anxiety or depression rank as a highlight to be posted about.

In a society where 46.6 million adults experience mental illness in a year, one would think mental health deserves just as much attention as the Kardashian’s latest vacation spot. However, because of the stigma, openly communicating about depression or other mental health issues can be intimidating for most.

Mental illness is not something to romanticize, and more people need to be open to an honest conversation about it on and off of the web. Being vulnerable in this way can be especially difficult for celebrities, who feel pressured to maintain an image of a perfect, glamorous life.

However, the following celebrities aren’t afraid to talk about their struggles with depression and other mental health issues in a manner that raises awareness and encourages others to keep fighting their own battles.

1. Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is famous for many things, like her impressive four-octave vocal range, voluminous ponytail and her unwillingness to be anything but fierce when it comes to shutting down misogynistic comments.

No one would have anticipated that the singer would also become known for her downhill spiral into depression. But, after the past couple of years, the world saw the popstar in a new light.

Grande was diagnosed with anxiety at a young age, which she admitted in an interview with Elle. The 26-year-old singer claimed to manage the disorder well until the bombing that killed 23 people occurred at her Manchester concert in 2017.

“I would be in a good mood, fine and happy, and they would hit me out of nowhere,” Grande told Elle. “I’ve always had anxiety, but it had never been physical before … I felt so upside down.”

Following the terrorist attack, Grande was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which she shared in an Instagram post. To make matters worse, Grande was under public scrutiny during the time because of her fleeting romance with Pete Davidson and the death of artist and ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller.

Although not all of her coping habits are healthy, Grande isn’t afraid to talk about them. For instance, she told Zach Sings in an interview that she used alcohol as a way to help write the songs on her most recent album. Although the tone in the room was light (as light as it could be after talking about “Ghostin,” the song allegedly about Miller), she mentioned the use of the substance to get through the writing process multiple times.

“I don’t remember any of it,” she joked. “I was drunk the entire time we made this album.”

The “thank u, next” star uses her social media platform to open up to her fans about the demons she faces on a day-to-day basis. Despite the trauma she’s still currently dealing with, Grande attributed a lot of her healing to the support of her fans, friends, family and music. She continues to attend therapy and write music as a form of treatment.

With a fighter’s attitude, the popstar encourages others with her spirit. “No matter how hard it gets or how many feelings come up that are screaming at me to be processed and sorted through one day, I’m grounded by gratitude and promise not to give up,” Grande posted on Instagram.

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2. Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber is familiar with the pressures of leading a life in the limelight. Some would say that the Biebs is a little too familiar and, with being thrown into fame at such a young age, he has been affected immensely by its downsides. And yet, years of unwanted attention and criticism have not stopped the singer from being vocal about his struggles to the public.

Bieber took to Instagram to connect with his fans. “Been struggling a lot. Just feeling super disconnected and weird… ” he wrote. “I always bounce back, so I’m not worried. Just wanted to reach out and ask for your guys to pray for me.”

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Many would say religion grounded the young singer after years of tumultuous behavior, and it is worth noting that Bieber was more than a troubled kid during that time in his life. He was suffering from and continues to fight against anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Canadian-born singer opened up about playing the cards he’s been dealt in a Vogue interview. “I beat the fact that my mom was depressed a lot of my life and my dad has anger issues,” he said. “Stuff that they passed on that I’m kind of mad they gave me.”

Even after cleaning up his act and marrying the love of his life, Hailey Baldwin, Bieber shared that he continues to feel a bleak numbness from time to time.

The Purpose Tour of 2017 was the last of Bieber’s public performances after he reportedly canceled his scheduled meet-and-greets and an abundance of shows. Experiencing the effects of depression, he stated that he felt alone and needed time to process his emotions.

“I got really depressed on tour,” the star said. “I haven’t talked about this, and I’m still processing so much stuff that I haven’t talked about.”

Bieber gives fans updates on his journey between uploading Instagram stories of his therapy sessions and posts about how he is working on getting better.

3. Halsey

Last but not least is the 24-year-old singer who opened minds, hearts and challenged the status quo with her unique sound. Ashley Frangipane, more popularly known as Halsey, has had to jump through hurdles of her own trauma to become the woman who she is today.

Halsey made strides with her SoundCloud hit, “Ghost,” and broke free from a life of poverty. Despite having the influence of both her parents, Halsey faced challenges such as a miscarriage and homelessness.

But the most life-threatening event occurred when she was at 17. The teenager attempted suicide after being bullied in school and going through bouts of severe loneliness. The attempt put her in a psychiatric hospital for 17 days.

It was also then that she discovered she has bipolar disorder.

The “Badlands” singer told Rolling Stone about further experiences with mental health hospitalizations. “I’ve been committed twice since [I became] Halsey,” she said, “and no one’s known about it. But I’m not ashamed of talking about it now.”

Halsey made it clear that she wants to be seen for more than her illness, without disregarding how critical it is for everyone to be educated about it. The same pain laced in Halsey’s memories is etched into her music, which is probably a form of coping.

Recently, the rock ‘n’ roll star opened up about her present struggles. “It’s been my choice,” she told the interviewer. “I’ve said to my manager, ‘Hey, I’m not going to do anything bad right now, but I’m getting to the point where I’m scared that I might, so I need to go figure this out.’ It’s still happening in my body. I just know when to get in front of it.”

What is most inspirational about Halsey’s journey is her taking ownership of it. Despite the illness shouting at her to throw logic and reason out of the window, the star insists it is her responsibility to heal and to want to be healed.

In another interview, Halsey told the public, “Experiences with mental health is a journey, not a destination. I used to think that one day I was going to arrive at happy and just stay there. And it’s like — that’s not true.”

What does ring true are Halsey’s words. All people with experience of mental health issues can attest to the challenge of getting through one day at a time. Mental illness has such a large impact on one’s life, and these celebrities are gracious enough to share that with not only their fans but the world.

Grande, Bieber and Halsey are living proof that, although overcoming mental illness is difficult, it is possible. Everyone can draw inspiration and courage from their stories of progress.

Although romanticizing and glamorizing depression, anxiety, etc. can make it easier, or even seductive, to talk about, these celebrities demonstrate that the honest, unglamorized truth is more effective in helping people understand mental illness and bringing together a community around those that struggle with it.

So, whether you’re struggling with depression or anxiety or another disorder, know that others are out there struggling — fighting alongside you.

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