Vulnerable AF: Male Celebrities With Mental Illness Open Up
“Boys don’t cry” is an adage society has long subscribed to, but thanks to a slew of male celebrities opening up about mental health, that stigma is finally being laid to rest. Just as famous females like Demi Lovato and Chrissy Teigen have gotten candid about their struggles, a handful of Hollywood’s most famous men have followed suit — and to call their confessions important is an understatement. Not only do 6 million American men suffer from depression each year, but they are far less likely than women to talk about it or to seek treatment. From The Rock’s long battle with depression to Ryan Reynolds’ crippling anxiety, here are 10 famous men who’ve gotten real about their mental health. This is a trend we can definitely get behind.
1. Justin Verlander
When a 2014 shoulder injury threatened to end his career, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander leaned on the wife Kate Upton for support. “She was instrumental in me not...like, jumping off a bridge,” the 35-year-old MLB player told the Bleacher Report. “I was depressed and kind of just upset at the world and trying to hide my own shit.” And because talking about mental health tends to be stigmatized in the world of professional sports, the 35-year-old MLB player felt he couldn’t seek treatment. “I don’t like to talk to people about being hurt. As athletes, you’re not supposed to. It’s an excuse...But she was someone I could talk to,” he explained. “I mean, basically a therapist.” The pair married years later in November 2017, just three days after Verlander helped his team to win the World Series.
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2. Mark Wahlberg
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Mark Wahlberg is the type of person who gets stuff done. Need proof? During a Q&A at the annual LEAP Foundation conference, the actor revealed he wakes up at 3:30 every morning to pray and work out. So when an arm injury disrupted his daily routine, Wahlberg's mental health plummeted. “When I was down and wasn’t able to do the things I’m used to doing, I started to feel depressed — and I never feel depressed,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. While the 47-year-old “Transformers” actor didn’t elaborate on his experience with depression, he said the experience instilled motivation in him, and was more driven than ever to succeed in his career.
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3. Jared Padalecki
“Supernatural” star Jared Padalecki has battled a lot more in real life than the demons he defeats on-screen. In an interview with Variety, Padalecki revealed that he’s dealt with clinical depression, even though it didn't make sense to him at the time.
“I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point,” he said. So Padalecki wants others who live with mental illness to give themselves some credit. "There's no shame in having to fight every day,” he said. "If you're still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You're here."
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4. Prince Harry
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Historically, British royals have a stiff upper lip when it comes to talking about their feelings. But Prince Harry broke the stuffy tradition in 2017, when he gave a candid interview revealing his internal turmoil after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life, but my work as well,” the prince said.
At Prince William’s urging, Harry spoke to a therapist. “All of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront, and I was like, ‘There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with,’” the 33-year-old said. Today, one of Harry’s biggest charities is Heads Together, a campaign that stresses the importance of mental health.
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5. The Rock
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s tumultuous childhood incited a battle with depression that lasted for years. In a 2018 interview with the Express, the actor spoke about how witnessing his mother’s suicide attempt when he was 15 sent him on a downward spiral. “She got out of the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic,” he said. “I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road.”
Years later, the actor’s dream of playing football professionally was crushed after an injury, and shortly after that, his girlfriend broke up with him. “That was my absolute worst time,” the “Baywatch” star said. Johnson has risen above the pain, but the 45-year-old is still hypersensitive to others who are suffering. “We always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” he said.
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6. Michael Phelps
While speaking to an audience at George Washington University in 2017, the world’s most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps admitted that he has dealt with anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts over the years. “I remember sitting in my room for four or five days not wanting to be alive, not talking to anybody,” the 32-year-old revealed.
That same year, in the documentary “Angst,” Phelps explained that talking about his issues helped him deal with them better. “I just didn’t like who I was. If I was angry or depressed or upset, I would almost ignore it,” the swimmer said in a clip. “So I would shove it even farther down. Once I opened up about things that I had kept inside of me for so many years, I then found that life was a lot easier. I got to the point where, I understood that it’s OK to not be OK.”
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7. Zayn Malik
In 2016, singer Zayn Malik surprised fans when he canceled a performance because of anxiety. Instead of chalking the cancellation up to a “virus” as many other celebs would, the 25-year-old came clean. “One of my team members offered to write a statement saying that I’d been taken ill, but I didn’t want to do that. I was done with putting out statements that masked what was really going on,” the former One Direction singer wrote in his book, “Zayn.”
“Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of; it affects millions of people every day.” After Malik opened up about his anxiety, he received thousands of supportive messages from male fans. “Guys on Twitter were telling me how anxiety had affected their lives and saying that they were glad I had spoken up,” he said. “It felt as though some good had come from the situation.”
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8. Adam Levine
When he was a child, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was one of the estimated 5 percent of kids who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) each year — and he continues to struggle with it as an adult. In 2014, “The Voice” judge partnered with the Own It campaign, an initiative that helps break down the stigma that ADHD only affects kids, in order to inspire adults to get help if they’re still dealing with symptoms.
“I had trouble sometimes writing songs, and I couldn’t always focus and complete everything I had to,” the crooner told ADDitude magazine. “I remember being in the studio once and having 30 ideas in my head, but I couldn’t document any of them.” Levine eventually went back to his doctor to get help, and he’s dedicated to the cause of helping others.
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9. Jon Hamm
While his “Mad Men” character Don Draper might have been too proud to admit to therapy, Jon Hamm certainly isn't. In a 2017 interview with InStyle, the actor talked about how therapy has helped him during particularly trying times his life, including bouts of depression, addiction and grief (Hamm lost both of his parents before he graduated college).
“Medical attention is medical attention, whether it’s for your elbow or for your teeth or for your brain,” the 47-year-old said. “And it’s important. We live in a world where to admit anything negative about yourself is seen as a weakness, when it’s actually a strength.”
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10. Howie Mandel
In a revealing 2009 ABC News interview, Howie Mandel admitted his lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Ever since he was young, the 62-year-old comedian has had a debilitating fear of germs. When he was the host of “Deal or No Deal,” he refused to shake any of the contestants’ hands, instead opting for a fist bump.
“In my mind [the hand] is like a petri dish,” he said. “Otherwise, I would spend the day — as I have in the past in my life — in the men’s room rubbing and scrubbing and scalding.” In order to deal with his issues (Mandel also suffers from anxiety and ADHD), the TV personality sees a therapist and takes medication. “I think the solution to making this world better is if we would just be healthy mentally,” he said.
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11. Ryan Reynolds
While he may seem to have it all — the talent, the looks, the wife — Ryan Reynolds suffers from anxiety. In a recent interview with the New York Times, the “Deadpool” star admitted that he’s battled with the issue for a long time. “I’ve always had anxiety,” the 41-year-old shared. “Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”
In his early 20s, Reynolds went through a “real unhinged phase,” during which he self-medicated to deal with his crippling anxiety. Now the actor goes about things differently: In addition to using the meditation app Headspace, Reynolds often gives interviews for “Deadpool” in character. “When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set,” he said.
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Male rappers aren’t always known for their vulnerable sides, but singer Logic broke that stereotype when he gave a deeply personal interview with CBS News in 2017. The 28-year-old, who was hospitalized after a breakdown in 2015, confessed to being diagnosed with derealization disorder, which is a byproduct of anxiety.
“It’s an intense form of anxiety where you feel like you’re almost separated, and there’s a filter between you and reality at all times because you’re hyperanalyzing the situations around you,” he said in the interview. That same year, the rapper debuted his song “1-800-273-8255,” which is the phone number for the suicide-prevention hotline. After performing it at the MTV VMAs, calls to the lifeline increased 50 percent.
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13. Trevor Noah
He may have people cracking up every night on “The Daily Show,” but Trevor Noah is no stranger to depression. While accepting the 2017 award for Comedy Person of the Year, the 34-year-old thanked Jim Carrey for helping him put a name to what he was feeling for so many years. “Jim Carrey was one of the first comedians that described the beast that many of us face in this room, and that’s depression,” Noah said. “I didn’t know what that thing was. I just thought I liked sleeping for weeks on end sometimes, and then I read [Carrey’s] story and I was like, ‘Oh sh*t, that’s what’s going on.’ And I thank you because, you know, I found a way to fight it. I found a way to build a community, and that’s what this place is: It’s a community of people trying to do something.”
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever battled depression? What about anxiety or another mental issue? How did you deal with it? What has been the most helpful in fighting your mental health struggles? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.
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