Celebrities are always under the gun, making any erratic or unbecoming behavior appear worse than it really is. And with all that pressure, stars can easily crack and have a meltdown from reading too many tabloids about themselves, losing a Hollywood gig or just having more money than they know what to do with. Sometimes, however, it’s often unclear if a celebrity’s problems are the typical ‘star syndrome’ or a deeper, more serious one — mental illness. Here are 13 celebrities with mental illness.
The first person who comes to mind when we think of celebrities with mental illness is definitely former pop princess Britney Spears. After the ravages of… whatever it is that she has. Although Spears has never been officially diagnosed with either bipolar, schizophrenia or depression, there’s much speculation surrounding her battle with these diseases from both the public and her own friends. Tabloids will be tabloids, but something is clearly wrong when an individual’s own friends and family are convinced of the undiagnosed problem based on their own interactions. After a meltdown in 2008, Spears shaved her head and was committed to a mental health facility for an evaluation. Her bizarre and reckless behavior cost her the custody of her own children and earned her a court ordered conservatorship, given to her father. Her weird antics include (but are absolutely not limited to) attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella, donning wigs and speaking in foreign accents at random, endangering the safety of her children in a myriad of ways, and stripping naked in public.
Jean Claude Van Damme
Big screen badass Jean Claude Van Damme was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1997 after a short stint in rehab for cocaine addiction and a realization that his career was beginning to decline. Considering suicide, the actor opted to seek help instead; his diagnosis resulted in a prescription of sodium valproate, a drug Van Damme calls “that simple salt.”
Van Damme’s early career was filled with karate training — without it, he says, he would have plummeted into an irreconcilable depression. Regarding his medication, Van Damme has said “You just have to take a little salt, and since I’m doing that it’s, like, BOOM! In one week, I felt it kick in. All the commotion around me, all the water around me, moving left and right around me, became like a lake.”
Former rapper, now meth connoisseur, DMX has been completely ravaged by drug addiction and mental illness. The only artist to have his first two albums debut at number one, DMX branched out into acting and considerably expanded his career — and bank account — by doing so.
DMX was reluctant to speak about his illness in an interview with Blender mag, and only admitted to ever acknowledging it when reminded of one of his own songs:
“Listed as a manic depressive with extreme paranoia/And dog, I got something for ya/Hear my name, feel my pain . . . ”
Besides this admission, DMX has never spoken out about his struggle with bipolar disorder. He grew up partially in an abusive household, and spent the rest of his developmental life in and out of foster homes. Although he seemed to overcome his problems after becoming a multi-millionaire celebrity, he now continues to fall deeper into obscurity after being arrested multiple times on drug charges. Not only has he tried to buy weed and cocaine from an undercover officer, but DMX even tried to convince someone he was an FBI agent and needed the victim’s car for some top secret FBI business. He’s now been arrested so many times that it’s hard to keep track, but the sad progression of his mugshots tell more of a story than any police report ever could — his physical health has clearly declined with each offense, chronicling the disintegration of a once admirable individual.
Halle Berry publicly admitted attempting suicide after divorcing from baseball superstar David Justice, but stopped when she “had an image of [her] mother finding [her].” Berry says her sense of self-worth was so low, she tried to suffocate herself with carbon monoxide in the garage of her house. Her tumultuous relationship with Justice wasn’t the only unhealthy one to effect her negatively — Berry says that she attended sex rehab with her husband after being married for only one year. Singer Eric Benet had a serious cheating problem, and Berry claims to have “put his needs before her own” instead of leaving him like she should have. Although the silver screen sex pot has moved onto greener pastures with model boyfriend Gabriel Audry, she’s said she will “never, ever get married again.”
The daughter of a mentally ill widow, Marilyn Monroe was left to cold and uncaring foster homes in her youth. She was attacked at the age of six and barely escaped sexual assault. An extremely intelligent and cultured individual, Monroe didn’t let her hardships growing up stop her from becoming one of the most successful and historically significant celebrities of all time.
At the height of her success, Monroe began abusing sleeping pills and alcohol. Her work ethic declined along with her health, especially when she suffered from a number of miscarriages in the 60s. A divorce, the death of a friend, tumultuous affairs, and dismissal from a large motion picture role for poor attendance all contributed further to her depression. Monroe was admitted to an institution for mental evaluation and was released after only a short time — but never returned to filming. She would be found alongside two empty sleeping pill bottles only two months later.
Renowned singer Billy Joel’s fame wasn’t enough to pull him from diagnosed depression, and he tried to kill himself by drinking furniture polish because “it looked tastier than bleach.” Also an alcoholic, Joel has been in and out of rehab for the addiction which has made him sick on numerous occasions. It’s unclear which came first — the alcoholism or the depression — but one hand certainly washes the other.
One of the most influential political figures of her time, Diana both purposely and inadvertently changed the world around her. The princess struggled with bulimia for over a decade, and when it became a public fact the number of bulimic women seemed to spike — prompting speculation that it was a ‘Diana Effect.’ Her problem began after tabloids criticized her appearance as ‘pudgy'; Diana’s choice to diet quickly spiraled out of control and left the beautiful princess unable to control her self destructive eating habits. After her death, tapes were released in which Diana spoke not only about her battle with bulimia, but multiple suicide attempts and depression as well.
Handsome actor Heath Ledger died a tragic and untimely death when he overdosed on drugs during the filming of The Dark Knight. Ledger had been suffering from depression, anxiety, and, as a result of the two, sleep deprivation. There is speculation over whether his death was suicidal or accidental, but most see it as a tragic accident. Ledger’s problems were apparently exacerbated by his stressful role as evil villain The Joker. Former Joker Jack Nicholson even said he warned Ledger, but later claimed it was in regards to taking the drug Ambien. Ledger himself, however, admitted that the role was ‘physically and emotionally draining’, leaving him unable to sleep but a measly two hours per night.
In 2005, insanely insecure boxing legend Mike Tyson says of himself: “I’ll never be happy. I believe I’ll die alone. I would want it that way. I’ve been a loner all my life with my secrets and my pain. I’m really lost, but I’m trying to find myself. I’m really a sad, pathetic case.” Once an undefeated heavyweight champion, Tyson struggled with depression and severe insecurities since childhood. Even now, recalling the hurtful actions of his childhood bullies brings tears to his eyes as he forces out a choked threat directed at anyone who might attempt to harm him. Tyson’s career was lost to rampant indulgence, depression and distraction from his beloved sport after the death of his trainer and mentor. Tyson is notorious for having an awful temper, he’s been known to absolutely lose it in public. Even one comment like the one in this video sends Tyson into a screaming rage.
Queens-born business mogul Donald Trump has more problems than his silly haircut; he’s absolutely terrified of germs. Trump refuses to shake hands and press elevator buttons. Trump says, “I’m going to do everything in my power not to shake hands with teachers. They have 17,000 germs per square inch on their desk. That’s ten times the germ rate of those in other professions. It’s absolutely swarming with germs.” Trump hasn’t been officially diagnosed with the illness, but these signs of extreme cleanliness definitely support a case of OCD.
Angeline Jolie, now a world famous actress and political advocate, was once a moody gothic teen who used to cut herself during bouts of depression. She’s still a little wacky, and reportedly keeps an imaginary friend with whom she has nightly consultations about her daily trials and tribulations. Jolie’s bodyguard reported that her frequent meltdowns and ridiculous demands were the makeup of a self-centered and psychotic woman, and went so far as to call her mentally abusive. Jolie’s own father has spoken out about her depression, although Jolie was estranged from him at the time for a number of reasons.
It’s a little unclear whether Courtney Love is wasted all the time, mentally ill, or both. Her ridiculous antics often earn her a place on celebrity news sites, and her erratic behavior has caused many a problem with both individuals and businesses. From carelessly starting a cigarette related fire in her favorite London hotel, to making nonsensical misspelled tweets about lawsuits and hating Lily Allen, Love never fails to make a scene. She’s been to both overeaters’ and shopaholics’ anonymous meetings, struggled with drug addiction, and lost custody of her child after accusations of neglect and abuse.
Rock star David Bowie had a family history of mental illness — his three aunts suffered various ailments. One was diagnosed with depression, another with schizophrenia, and the third was actually given a lobotomy for ‘bad nerves.’ Additionally, Bowie’s brother committed suicide by lying down on some railroad tracks after sneaking out of a mental institution. Bowie was said to have frequent breakdowns in which he would cry uncontrollably, but refused to see a psychiatrist for fear of what he’d discover.