This was originally published on Liberal America on July 5, 2016.
At least 1 in 4 Americans suffers from mental health issues during their lifetimes. It is not always related to a diagnosis. Many people have issues that are temporary.
I have put together a list of the Top 15 Successful People that live (or lived) with mental illnesses. When I was diagnosed I felt so alone, and I still worry about how I will be able to live independently.
For those of you who are struggling, I hope these people will inspire you to do great things. I am including anyone who is famous for any reason, and from any era. Some even may surprise you.
1. Buzz Aldrin
This guy flew to the moon in 1969, helping to make history. Later in life, hesuffered from depression and addiction. He was Chairman of the National Mental Health Association.
2. Isaac Newton
This man was a scientist who discovered the law of gravitation in the 17th Century. He was instrumental in the scientific revolution that occurred around that time. Obviously, they didn’t have the diagnoses that we have now, but Mr. Newton probably had anxiety and maybe a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
3. Patty DukeThe late actress and activist won an Academy Award in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in the movie, The Miracle Worker. Off the screen, she suffered from bipolar disorder and an addiction herself.
She was raised in a house with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother.
4. Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson is the founding member of the music group, The Beach Boys. He formed the band in 1961. He battled drug and alcohol abuse for decades. He has also battled schizoaffective disorder for years.
5. Edvard Munch
The famous painter behind “The Scream” suffered from mental health issues. He was admitted into a sanitarium in 1908 when he was hearing voices. He quit drinking and got better after that.
6. Demi LovatoThis Disney Channel star checked into rehab in 2010 for issues with bulimia, cutting, and bipolar disorder. She said:
“I had no idea that I was even bipolar until I went into treatment. I was conquering the world, but then I would come crashing down, and I would be more depressed than ever.”
7. Chris Cornell
This beautiful man has the best singing voice in rock music. He fronted the bands “Soundgarden” and “Audioslave.” He has also done solo work. He has suffered bouts of depression over the years. He has also dealt with social phobias and addiction.
8. Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson is a very talented, versatile English actress. She has suffered bouts of clinical depression in her life. She said:
“I find the job I do emotionally very demanding. I suffer from occasional mild depression, which I think is a very common thing.”
9. Brooke Shields
Actress Brooke Shields suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Rowan, in 2003. She eventually found medicine for it. She evenadmitted to having suicidal thoughts at times:
“[I believed] I should not exist. The baby would be better off without me. Life was never going to get better — so I better just go. Finally I did fight. I survived.”
10. Zach Braff
You may recognize this guy from the TV show, Scrubs. He wrote a little movie called Garden State; he said he identifies with his melancholy character from the movie:
“I think I suffer from some mild depression. So to have millions of people go, ‘I watched your movie and related,’ was the ultimate affirmation that I’m not a freak.”
11. Bryce Dallas Howard
The beautiful lady is Ron Howard’s daughter. She admits to struggling with postpartum depression after the birth of her son, Theodore, in 2007. She said:
“It went untreated for 18 months, because I was just so ashamed and frightened. I didn’t know what it meant and didn’t know what happened to me…You can’t raise kids alone, you can’t heal alone — you really need a community.”
12. John GreenThis brilliant man is a great author. Two of his books have been made into movies: The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns. He admits to struggling with anxiety. Here is what he said to a fan who wrote to him about:
“It’s not easy and I don’t always do it well, but I’ve been living with this for a long time and have a good medication regimen that works pretty well (at the moment at least) and also have a good therapist I’m able to work really closely with. None of that happened overnight, and it’s a difficult thing to live while you’re figuring out how to manage it. But it’s important to know that it can get better, and that you are not alone in this experience.”
13. Colin Farrell
This may surprise you, but this hunky actor has been to rehab for his depression and addiction. He said:
“Desperation will allow you to do incredible things in the name of survival … I had created an environment for myself, a way of living for myself which, on the outside, seemed incredibly gregarious and vivacious. I don’t believe I have any chemical predisposition towards depression, but let’s just call it… I was suffering from a spiritual malady for years and I indulged it.”
14. Jared Padalecki
You may recognize this hunky man from “Gilmore Girls” and “Supernatural.” He just recently came out about his struggles with depression. He just recently sold t-shirts to benefit mental health charities. He said:
“I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here.”
15. Wil Wheaton
This nerdy dude is a blogger and actor. You may recognize him from the all time classic series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, or from the Stephen King movie, Stand By Me. He was also on the Sci-Fi Channel’s hit show, Eureka and guest-starred on The Big Bang Theory.
Wheaton deals with depression and anxiety. He said:
“You are not the only person in the world who has anxiety. You are not the only person in the world who has depression. You’re not the only person in the world who has thoughts of self-harm. There are people who want to help you. There are people who have spent their entire lives helping people like you and me and all of the people that you’re seeing in this video. And you’re not alone. You are OK.”