Celebri­ties open up about men­tal health strug­gles

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - ALI­SON BOWEN

CHICAGO — Many find it dif­fi­cult to speak out about men­tal ill­ness. Some worry what oth­ers will think of them. Some are con­cerned it will neg­a­tively af­fect their ca­reer. Some fear the in­for­ma­tion would be a bur­den on fam­ily and friends.

For­mer WNBA star Chamique Hold­sclaw had these same fears be­fore talk­ing pub­licly about her de­pres­sion and bipo­lar dis­or­der.

“I was re­ally wor­ried,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, now I’m go­ing to be judged. The coaches are go­ing to treat me dif­fer­ent.’”

She wor­ried, she re­called, peo­ple would think, “She’s not men­tally tough. She’s soft.”

But Hold­sclaw, who was re­cently in Chicago to talk about end­ing stig­mas sur­round­ing men­tal health is­sues, found transparency pro­vided re­lief. Her story was trans­lated into the doc­u­men­tary “Mind/Game: The Un­quiet Jour­ney of Chamique Hold­sclaw,” which tracked her ath­letic ca­reer and men­tal health strug­gles.

In 2013, she pleaded guilty to as­sault and pos­ses­sion of a firearm af­ter re­port­edly smash­ing the win­dows of her ex-girl­friend’s car. Re­al­iz­ing she needed help, she found that telling oth­ers what she was go­ing through took away feel­ings of hid­ing and shame.

She said she is en­cour­aged that other bold­face names are open­ing up.

Last month, Prince Harry de­tailed the grief and rage he suf­fered af­ter los­ing his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12 years old. He and his brother, Prince Wil­liam, are in­volved with char­ity work that aims to take away the stigma of men­tal ill­ness.

Prince Wil­liam also re­leased a video with Lady Gaga — who has de­tailed her post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der — in which they dis­cussed the im­por­tance of let­ting peo­ple know they will not be judged.

“I should be so happy,” the singer said in the video. “But you can’t help it if in the morn­ing you wake up, you are so tired, you are so sad, you are so full of anx­i­ety.”

Celebri­ties speak­ing frankly about de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety, Hold­sclaw said, might help oth­ers feel com­fort­able do­ing the same.

“Young peo­ple com­ing up, we have to change things by let­ting them know that it’s OK to talk about their feel­ings and their emo­tions,” she said. “Those thoughts and emo­tions fes­ter.”

Model Chrissy Teigen wrote in Glam­our in March about her post­par­tum de­pres­sion. She too hes­i­tated be­cause of what peo­ple would think of her or how they might crit­i­cize her. But she said talk­ing openly felt nec­es­sary.

“I’m speak­ing up now be­cause I want peo­ple to know it can hap­pen to any­body, and I don’t want peo­ple who have it to feel em­bar­rassed or to feel alone,” she wrote.

For Hold­sclaw, open­ing up freed her in a way she hadn’t felt be­fore.

“We have to use our voices and use our plat­form to en­cour­age,” she said.

, TNS

Britain’s Prince Harry suf­fered “to­tal chaos” be­fore even­tu­ally seek­ing help to deal with the death of his mother, he said ear­lier this month.

CCN/REX SHUTTERSTOCK, TNS

For­mer WNBA star Chamique Hold­sclaw says that when celebs like Prince Harry speak out, it lessens the stigma of men­tal health is­sues.

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