Apr 14, 2011

Catherine Zeta-Jones

I'm not writing this post as an authority on Catherine Zeta-Jones' personal life but rather as my response to the news that has made the front page of many online newspapers today.

Image courtesy of http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/

Catherine released a statement confirming that she had recently received inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar disorder. 

We now live in a world where many aspects of other people's lives are public knowledge.  Their various surgical procedures, their weight loss woes, their prowess around the house, their personal lives (the more  complicated the better) and the most banal details of their day to day activities.  Why can't we use the privilege of our freedom of thought, speech and beliefs to benefit each other rather than promote insecurities and jealousy?

Yet psychiatric illness still remains taboo.  Despite the fact that it affects as many as 1 in 5 Australians at some stage of their lives.  And not just these 1 in 5 Australians but their loved ones, their friends and their colleagues.  We are still uncomfortable with talking about it and the centuries old prejudices and misconceptions have proved more resistant to the in your face media of the 21st century than those that surround practically every other aspect of human life.

We all need more people with high public profiles to come forward and be open about their experience with mental illness and their progress with treatment and regaining control of their lives.  The power of simply feeling that you're not alone as either a sufferer or a carer is immense.  It lifts a burden off tired shoulders.  It's an extra long hug.  It feels good even though it doesn't have a direct therapeutic effect.

Beyond this, acknowledging mental illness helps people at risk to make that first step towards seeking support and eventually a diagnosis. 

Mental illness can happen to anyone.  It doesn't matter what you look like, how much you earn, how many degrees you have or whether or not it runs in your family.  It just happens and it can be treated.  It's not your fault.


  1. She is lovely...mental illness is an illness just like any other condition it needs treatment and often medication.
    People seem very judge mental when the mind and moods are involved almost as if it is a taboo subject.

    I hope that she gets it under control and can move on and be happy.

    Hope too that your flu has gone.


  2. Between her bipolar issue and her husbands cancer, Zeta Jones is dealing with a lot.
    How much harder this must all be when you are a celebrity.

  3. Thank you for a really important post! Mental illness ( other than " light " depression ), is much a taboo also here in Finland.
    My uncle spent about 50 years in a mental hospital. He had schizophrenia. When we moved south, I searched him up and started to visit him. He reminded me so much of my own father, who had died many years earlier. I wished to take my then adult daughter along to meet him, but the MIL would not let me. As if one could be infected by meeting someone having schizophrenia.
    Depression runs in our family too ( from my mother´s side ) and has hit hardest on my younger daughter,

  4. I totally agree with you that it is important to create an openness towards mental illness. Having family members suffering of both DB and depression, I know how difficult this can be. Luckily, said family members are able to live a good and full life with the aid of medication and psychiatric treatment. Thanks for bringing up this important issue!

  5. It's so prevalent, but that still doesn't make the illness hurt less.

  6. Hello everyone

    Thank you for your comments on this post. I wish all of you well in your journeys supporting family and friends who are affected by mental illness.

    I feel so strongly about this because we are talking about conditions that happen to a person either out of the blue or as a consequence of something else pretty serious that has affected their lives.

    Why shouldn't they feel comfortable about disclosing their situation with prejudice?

    I'll end there.

    SSG xxx

  7. I suffered depression quite badly growing up and unfortunately was unable to complete my HSC because of it. It makes me so sad when I hear people disregarding the seriousness of it,it's such a hard thing to understand and affects everyone so differently. Hopefully one day the prejudice will stop and people suffering from this horrible disease can get the support they need.

  8. Really lovely post. I have always been open about the eating disorder I went through as a teen because of this - it's the shame and guilt that you feel as part of a mental illness that makes it so much worse.


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