Yes, celebrities can be mentally ill too

Halsey performs at Lollapalooza 2016 in Chicago / Julia Simone Paul


When was the last time you went on any social media and didn’t see a celebrity that was trending? Recently, a lot of the people we idolize for being great singers, actors and models are being outed for being more like “us” than we often care to admit. Instead, it’s easier to say they’re going crazy, rather than being sick or in need of some help, like any regular person.

In light of Kanye West’s recent hospitalization and the cancellation of the rest of his Saint Pablo Tour due to his mental and physical health situation, people have been freaking out over the fact that he’s probably “cracked” in some way. Different news reports have come out saying he’s been admitted for sleep deprivation, exhaustion and dehydration. In reality, there are probably deeper meanings behind that diagnosis.

Being in the spotlight can be taxing. Over the years, there have been countless examples of celebrities falling from grace because of the pressure: pressure to be perfect, to be a role model and to have constant good behaviour. But normal people often feel those same pressures too.

Mental illness is a big deal, and the fact that people are referring to it as being crazy and losing your mind can be quite offensive to anyone who suffers from mental health related problems.

To anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to the news on Kanye, he’s apparently been saying a lot of things that people have been claiming are a little insane. Between voicing his opinions on supporting Donald Trump and bringing up a feud with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, media outlets from BuzzFeed to The CBC have been exploding with news about Kanye’s issues.

So instead of being supportive of Kanye’s situation and hoping he gets help, people choose to make fun of the problem and joke about the fact that he’s obviously going through something.

This thought that celebrities can’t have mental illnesses too has been around for a while. However, many public figures came forward in 2015 and 2016 to talk about the struggles with mental health and the problems that everyone is subjectable to. Demi Lovato, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kerry Washington and so many others want the public to know that it’s more of an issue than they may have let on.

These people we look up to are humans too; they suffer just like we can — and it can hurt.

A big part of my childhood was watching all the shows and movies in which Amanda Bynes was involved. I completely loved her in She’s the Man, so seeing all the news a couple years ago about how “crazy” Bynes has become was actually really sad.

In 2013, she was arrested for a multitude of reason, from DUI’s to marijuana possession. Later in 2014, it was revealed that she’s most likely suffering from Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, however nothing on the topic has been officially released. After tweeting that her father apparently molested her as a child, then trying to retract it by saying: “My dad never did any of those things. The microchip in my brain made me say those things but he’s the one that ordered them to microchip me,” Bynes was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

However, before any of that news came out, people were calling her “crazy”. Once people know that a mental illness is involved, everything suddenly becomes sad and unfortunate, though. They’re sick, not insane and they become a walking embodiment of their illness.

What people don’t seem to understand is that just because you have a mental illness, it doesn’t mean it becomes your only defining feature. You’re still a person, you just have an illness. It’s just the same as how cancer patients or survivors aren’t defined by the fact that they have or had cancer. No illnesses, visable or not, should have the power to define a person. They should be dealt with differently.

What’s also unfortunate about the situation is that mental illnesses can become trivialized so easily. Twenty-Two-year-old singer Halsey, despite her incredible talent and quick rise to fame, has been subjected to being defined by a hashtag that she claims is completely ridiculous. #TriBi, stemming from the fact that she is biracial, identifies as bisexual, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17, has been the “convenient” way of describing the star instead of just saying she’s a great singer. She has to be defined in some way and it’s got to be related to labels surrounding race, sexuality or status, rather than the qualities she actually possesses as a human being.

While some people see celebrities showcasing their mental illnesses and using them to educate their fans and the general public about the stigma attached to different issues as a good thing, others choose to make fun and brush it off as insanity. What you choose to do it entirely up to you, but instead of ripping on someone for canceling a tour or trying to get out of the spotlight because of “exhaustion”, think about the actual problems that might be going on.

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