Many Hollywood celebrities have spoken openly of their mental health concerns, and now even Bollywood is following suit with Deepika Padukone and Honey Singh coming out about their depression and bipolar disorder, respectively.
Many questions arise when you hear this. Does the ‘celebrity life’ push you towards mental illness? Or does being a celebrity make it easier for you to get help and support?
Ahead of World Bipolar Day (30th March) – which by the way, is celebrated on Van Gogh’s birthday because he was posthumously diagnosed with having Bipolar disorder – the connection on a life in the arts, especially the performing arts, and bipolar disorder/ depression, is something to ponder about.
Many studies have been done to explore whether a creative and different life pushes you towards mental illness, or having a different sort of mental predisposition from the start is why you seek a ‘different’ field to work in.
For example, look at this finding:
“Our findings suggest that creative people may have a genetic predisposition toward thinking differently, which, when combined with other harmful biological or environmental factors, could lead to mental illness,” said Robert A. Power of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College, London, and lead author of the study.
The above is also something that Stephen Fry echoes in his documentary about his struggles with bipolar disorder, The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive.
So, it could just be, that what predisposes a person to thinking differently, also predisposes him to mental illness, specifically those related to moods, if combined with environmental factors – which are in abundance if you are a celebrity, be it the late hours, the frequent travelling, the jet lag, the intoxication, or even the kind of work you are doing.
While this seems to be a chicken and egg problem, and is yet being inquired, it is good that all sorts of celebrities are coming out about their struggles. In their lieu, the masses struggling without many amenities, may finally get voice and support.