Katie Hebert, Staff Writer |
Dealing with mental illness is already a traumatizing experience, and being a huge celebrity figure constantly in the public eye adds another layer of pressure and stress that can trigger one’s mental health. While celebrities battling addiction has been news throughout many years, the focus on mental health is rising to mainstream media, allowing valuable and supportive discussions regarding mental illness and substance abuse to take course, especially from people in the spotlight.
One particular name in popular culture who has been open in discussing her struggles with mental illness is Demi Lovato. In 2010, Lovato made it public that she struggles with mental illnesses, particularly with bipolar disorder and eating disorders, as well as addiction and self harm. After disclosing her journey with mental health, Lovato released her third album in 2011, “Unbroken,” and later released her book, “Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year.” Since then, Lovato has been a major advocate for mental health, and has been public about her history with mental illness, addiction, and her journey of recovery.
While Lovato had celebrated six years of sobriety in March of 2018, recovery is not always an easy road for everyone. On July 24, 2018, Demi Lovato was hospitalized in Los Angeles due to an overdose. While the substance used is still not definite public knowledge, she was revived with Narcan, an emergency medication to help stop a narcotic overdose.
After being discharged, Lovato made a statement on her Instagram: “I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction. What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet.” Hours after the news went public of Lovato’s overdose, fans took to social media to support her, sharing stories with #HowDemiHasHelpedMe, and providing love and support to the musical artist as she recovers.
In June of this year, Lovato revealed she had relapsed, which was the cause for her new single, “Sober,” where she sings, “Call me when it’s over / ‘Cause I’m dying inside / Wake me when the shakes are gone / And the cold sweats disappear.” Following an apology to her parents and her fans, the lyrics continue with: “I wanna be a role model / But I’m only human.”
Other artists also write about the pressure of dealing with the struggles within their personal lives, while also being in the public eye and having a fan base that looks up to them. In Paramore’s newest album, “After Laughter,” Hayley Williams sings, “Oh, it’s such a long and awful lonely fall / Down from this pedestal that you keep putting me on,” disclosing the difficulties of having to be a role model and inspiration while suffering from mental illness in the song Idle Worship. Williams’ lyrics in “After Laughter,” and previous albums, discuss the emotions of dealing with being mentally ill. There tends to be a misconception that being famous and wealthy automatically equates to happiness, which is not the case. Many big names, such as Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdian—all of whom had successful careers, were suffering from mental illness, which resulted in their deaths.
While artists like Demi Lovato are strong advocates for mental illness and addiction, many don’t have the resources or abilities to talk about it. This past weekend, we lost hip-hop artist Mac Miller to an overdose. The day before he passed, Miller tweeted: “I just wanna go on tour,” which shows how so much of mental illness goes under the rug because people seem to be high-functioning and relatively content. Many artists, such as Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Prince, who have all passed from substance abuse, were not given the respect they deserved because their mental illness was not recognized and were blamed for their addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
As a society, it is vital for us to look at addiction as what it really is: a mental illness. It is amazing to know that mental health is gaining more positive dialogues as the stigma around mental illness starts to decrease, but many people still suffer without proper access to resources.
The amount of people suffering from mental illness is already high, and those numbers increase drastically for those of marginalized identities, such as people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people of lower socioeconomic status, etc.
While easier said than done, it is important to be able to talk about these issues openly in order to decrease stigmas surrounding mental illness, and creating dialogues to provide adequate resources and allow access for people to get the support they need.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please get support and help.
SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center: 607-436-3368
Crisis Line at Bassett Hospital: 877-369-6699
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Mobile Crisis Assessment Team: (877)-369-6699