A growing number of celebrities has opened up about living with bipolar disorder, defined by the Mayo Clinic as a lifelong mental health condition that “causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).”
Much of West’s career since 2010 can be viewed through the lens of his battle with bipolar disorder, which he’s addressed in interviews as well as on the cover of his 2018 album “Ye.” West, 43, has mentioned that he takes the antidepressant Lexapro in both his own songs (“FML”) and in his verse on Vic Mensa’s “U Mad.”
His wife, Kim Kardashian, has also spoken about West’s dealings with the disorder — and defended him in 2020 after he went on Twitter tirades and made concerning public comments while he was in the middle of an episode.
Carey, 50, first revealed her diagnosis to People in 2018. “Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she said of dealing with the variant bipolar II disorder. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.” She added that she was on medication.
The late “Star Wars” icon dealt with her bipolar disorder early on by self-medicating with alcohol and pills, and spoke at length about it in interviews and in her book “Postcards from the Edge.” She told Oprah Winfrey in 2011 that she eventually pivoted to regular electroconvulsive therapy, though her autopsy report revealed that Fisher had cocaine, traces of heroin, other opiates and Ecstasy in her system when she suffered the heart attack that led to her December 2016 death at the age of 60.
Her daughter, Billie Lourd, later said of Fisher’s death, “My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it.”
Rexha, 31, revealed her bipolar diagnosis in April 2019. “I felt lows that made me not want to leave my house or be around people … I felt highs that wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me stop working or creating music. Now I know why,” the “Say My Name” singer wrote on social media.
Four years before Mel Gibson’s 2006 DUI arrest — and accompanying anti-Semitic rant and general foulness that precipitated Gibson’s fall from grace — the now-64-year-old actor was interviewed for the documentary “Acting Class of 1977.” In the film, which was released in 2008, Gibson said he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “I had really good highs but some very low lows,” Gibson said. “I found out recently I’m manic depressive.” He has yet to address the disorder again.
Lovato, 28, has said she felt relieved when she received her bipolar diagnosis during a stay at the Timberline Knolls facility in 2011. “I remember smiling and thinking great, OK, so there’s not anything wrong with me as a person,” she said, adding, “I can do something to fix it. I don’t have to be like this forever.” The “I Love Me” singer, who notched six years of sobriety before a 2018 relapse and near-deadly overdose, has become an outspoken advocate for mental health.
“Comedian’s comedian” Bamford, 50, was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2014. “I had seen tons of psychiatrists and when I think about it, I’m sure had I been on [mood stabilizers] a lot earlier, I would have been able to miss out on a bunch of major episodes of depression,” she told BPHope.com in 2019. But she was able to turn her mental health struggles into fodder for her frank, funny and critically acclaimed Netflix series “Lady Dynamite.”
Zeta-Jones, 50, went public with her bipolar diagnosis in 2011 after her hand was essentially forced by a fellow patient at a facility where she was receiving treatment. Since then, however, she’s made her peace with being a public face of the condition.
“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable,” she told InStyle in 2012. “I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who didn’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
Sinatra didn’t speak extensively about his alleged bipolar disorder, but he famously called himself “an 18-karat manic-depressive” who “lived a life of violent emotional contradictions” in a 1963 interview with Playboy.
The 57-year-old Chappelle — known for his vibrant photography and music video work — has been hospitalized twice while battling bipolar disorder. He told journalist Tim Teeman in 2010 that “Being bipolar feels good at the beginning, you’re bursting with ideas, then you get delusional and think you can survive walking into traffic,” before adding, “I don’t want to ‘cure’ it. It feels like a gift.”
Troubled Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, 53, told Oprah Winfrey in 2007 that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide. However, she seemed to walk back that admission 10 years later in an interview with Dr. Phil where she described being abused by her mother as a child, saying: “I don’t believe I am [mentally ill], no, unless you say that complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness.”
Jean-Claude Van Damme
The iconic Belgian action star, 59, hit rock-bottom in the 1990s thanks to a heavy cocaine addiction. In 1998, he told writer Joey Berlin that he had been diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, saying “in one day I was having a wave of three, four … up-and-down stuff.” But he added that, with medication, “All the commotion around me, all the water around me, moving left and right around me, became like a lake.”
In 2004, journalist Pauley, 69, opened up about being diagnosed with bipolar III — precipitated by a combination of anti-depressants and steroids she’d been prescribed for a case of hives — in 2001. “A mood disorder is dangerous. You’ve got to get those dramatic waves of highs and lows stabilized,” she told Matt Lauer in 2004.
Oscar-winning actress Duke, who died in 2016, was a major trailblazer in terms of raising awareness about bipolar disorder, which at the time of her 1982 diagnosis was still referred to as manic depression.
“I choose to take responsibility for those things that I did,” she told Katie Couric in 1992. “You can’t buy back that time, but to certainly explain to the people who were so seriously injured emotionally and spiritually that there was something else going on. The best way is, once you start taking your medicine, if that works for you, is to change that behavior. And it’s taken, oh, it’s 10 years. It’s thrilling for me to say 10 years of a healthy life.”
Hamilton, 63, wowed fans with her transformation into a badass warrior woman in the second installment of the “Terminator” franchise. But just three years after that film’s mammoth success, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began seeking treatment.
“A lot of my early career was based o
n that angry woman that was just an organic outgrowth of the chemical imbalance that I had,” she told the Associated Press in 2004. “And I thought, ‘I’m going to become normal and I won’t have those extraordinary gifts as an actress.’ But there is nothing that has been diminished or dulled. I don’t feel that any of my greatness has been covered over.”
TV and film actress Hartley, 80, lived through a lot, including finding the body of her father, who killed himself when she was 23. She helped found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is an outspoken advocate for mental health, having only been diagnosed as bipolar at 54. “Bipolar disorder is something that is mine,” she said in 2003. “And it is very difficult to talk about it. Breaking this silence has been really wrenching for me.”
Gomez, 28, first revealed her diagnosis in April during a live stream with Miley Cyrus. She said she felt “equal parts terrified and relieved” to clue fans in about her situation. “Terrified because the veil was lifted but relieved that I finally had the knowledge of why I had suffered with various depressions and anxieties for so many years,” she explained.
Former Creed frontman Scott Stapp underwent a very public battle with bipolar disorder in 2014, eventually revealing his diagnosis in May 2015.
“Bipolar in some regards has been a blessing because it’s been a catalyst to make the changes in my life that I needed to make,” Stapp, 47, told Fox News in 2016. “That manic episode shattered me, it was immense embarrassment, humiliation — but had that not happened I wouldn’t be where I am today, rebuilding my life, my career, a more stable me that I haven’t been in 20 years.”
“General Hospital” star Benard, 57, first went public with his bipolar diagnosis in 2000.
In his 2020 memoir, he wrote that although it’d been almost three decades since his last breakdown, he still suffers from anxiety. “I do wake up some mornings with that knot in my stomach, that dread for no apparent reason engulfing me, and I still fight the anxiety demon that I will most likely fight the rest of my life,” he wrote in the book. “It’s a pain in my ass, but I’ve accepted that’s just the way it is.”
“Stranger Things” star David Harbour, 45, thoroughly picked apart his battle with bipolar disorder in a 2018 episode of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. He admitted that he has a somewhat counterintuitive approach to dealing with manic episodes: “The funny thing about my brain is every time I’ve had an episode like that it’s coupled with spirituality. Generally, people are like ‘I need to meditate more’ or ‘I need to get into yoga.’ And I need to, like, eat a cheeseburger and just like smoke cigarettes and hang out.”
Beloved UK songstress Winehouse — who died in 2011 at the age of 27 — characterized her moods as manic depressive in an interview around the release of her second album, “Back to Black.”
“I do drink a lot. I think it’s symptomatic of my depression,” she told the British TV show, “The Album Chart Show.” “I’m manic depressive, I’m not an alcoholic, which sounds like an alcoholic in denial.”
Differing accounts have suggested that while Winehouse may have been formally diagnosed with the disease by a professional, she refused treatment for it.
Halsey, 25, described having a “breakdown” at 17 — which involved a suicide attempt — to Glamour in 2019. After her subsequent hospitalization, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — a status she shares with her mother — and has since become an advocate for mental health, coming to the defense of fellow celebrities fighting similar battles in the spotlight.
Celebrities who have spoken out about living with bipolar disorder
#RobertReview: 9 | 10
Confessions of 22 Celebrities about Bipolar Disorder
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Read articles on Bipolar Disorder: https://robertchaen.com/category/bipolar-disorder-bd/