7 Bipolar Celebrities

By: Katy Egan

When it comes to suffering from mental illness, it’s important to remember that we’re never alone in our suffering. There are always people here to support us and to share our  struggles. Talking as someone who suffers from a mental illness, sometimes it does feel isolating and lonely, but everyone can suffer from their own illnesses or disorders, even celebrities. Mental illness does not discriminate, and at the end of the day it proves that we’re all just human.   

  1. Carrie Fisher 

Diagnosed at age 29, Carrie Fisher was always vocal about her mental health and mental health awareness. “One of the things that baffles me … is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls.” Her battle with bipolar was a life-long one. Describing her mania like her mind was having a party and she was the last to arrive, only to clean up the mess, Carrie made it an important point of hers to let the public know that individuals with bipolar are never cured; it’s a chronic illness and just because the symptoms can be eased with medication does not mean they are gone forever.

  1. Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was diagnosed with ADD as a child, a condition sometimes synonymous with bipolar disorders. He was later diagnosed as bipolar, but after refusing treatment and a young adulthood fraught with addiction and mental illness, he committed suicide at the age of 27. Kurt serves as an example of how genetic these mental illnesses can be. He was the third male in his family to commit suicide, and not the first memeber to struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

  1. Jane Pauley

Diagnosed later in life than most people with bipolar, Jane Pauly was diagnosed at 50. In her book, “Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue,” she shares her struggles against mental illness and her fight against ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. Jane discovered her illness when she was hospitalized for a thyroid disorder and she admitted to her doctor that she had recently bought a house during a manic episode. Her initial diagnosis was difficult as she waited for her moods to level out. At one point she was even hospitialized for three weeks because of suicide-centric thoughts. Today, she helps herself by helping others; she describes talking about her experiences with others is like therapy, and it helps destigmatize mental illness at the same time!

  1. Frank Sinatra

“Being an 18-karat manic depressive, and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation.” Frank Sinatra struggled with bipolar just as many other creatives have. While his mental affliction was unfortunate, there are many accounts by those close to him that he was extremely in touch with his various emotions, which became extremely apparent in his classic, timeless, and expressive performances he had over his career. Unfortunately, while his creativity was fed by his tumultuous relationship with his own mind, it made for a shaky foundation when it came to forming relationships and living a healthy lifestyle. Frank was well known as a womanizer and even attempted suicide three different times. 

  1. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey was diagnosed with Bipolar II, which consists of a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks followed by a hypomanic episode. Although she was diagnosed in 2001, Mariah didn’t publicly acknowledge her mental illness until 2018 in an interview with People’s magazine. Out of fear of being “exposed” Mariah kept her diagnosis a secret until the burden of it became too much. Much like many others, Mariah seeks to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, quoted saying: “I didn’t want to carry around the stigma of a lifelong disease that would define me and potentially end my career.”  

  1. Jimi Hendrix

Like many other artists, Jimi Hendrix’s art seemed to be stoked by his mood disorder. Although he was never officially diagnosed as bipolar, many of his actions and interviews seem to prove that Jimi suffered from manic depression. He even wrote a song titled “Manic Depression,” where he states: “Manic depression is searching my soul/ I know what I want/ But I just don’t know/ How to go about getting it.” Many of his songs followed this tone, admitting in an interview: “I can’t write no happy songs… [I] don’t feel very happy when I start writing.”

  1. Catherine Zeda-Jones

Like Mariah Carey, Catherine Zeda-Jones was diagnosed as bipolar II. Catherine was 41 when she found out about her disorder. She says the stress of her husband, Michael Douglas, battle with stage IV throat cancer brought on the worst of her low moments, which the disorder is characterized by. Although she will have to live the rest of life with the disorder, Catherine said, “The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating.” Much like Carrie Fisher, Catherine has been very vocal about how treatable bipolar is, and that it’s important to keep talking about the disorder in order to destigmatize it.

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