Clarity. We all need to talk about mental illness, celebrity or otherwise

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I published yesterday about my inability to relate to Kristen Bell opening up about her anxiety and depression.

I don’t know why it struck me to write about my feelings, but I wrote them out and put it out there, and the more I thought about what I wrote, the more I began to disagree with myself.

Sure, it’s hard to relate to a celebrity because their lifestyles seem so dramatically different from the average person who struggles to pay bills or isn’t able to get appropriate mental health care because they don’t have insurance. But this lack of being able to identify with a famous person shouldn’t have any impact on my appreciation for their ability to share their story about overcoming mental illness and stigma.

I’m sure it took a great deal of courage for Kristen to open up in that interview, the same way our This Is My Brave cast members conjure up a certain amount of bravery to audition for, and then share their stories on stage through our shows.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I think what I was feeling had more to do with envy than of not being able to empathize with a famous person sharing their story of mental illness. I’m envious that a celebrity has a much bigger platform than we do, and therefore when they share their stories they immediately garner a TON more attention than we’ve seen for all the hard work our organization has done over the past three years.

One of my favorite writers once wrote about envy, and I found myself re-reading her words today. Glennon reminded me today that: Envy is just unexpressed admiration. It’s respect holding its breath.

I constantly need to remind myself that we need to focus on the important work we do and that when the time is right, I’m confident our organization will attract the attention of national media. In fact, it may begin happening sooner than we thought.

This is my life’s work now, this work of storytelling. My organization encourages individuals to share their stories to end the stigma. I have no right to say that a celebrity sharing her story is any less impactful than a member of my own community.

Kristen, blog reader Jill, and anyone else I may have offended from my post yesterday, please accept my apology. Thank you to all who join us in the effort to end stigma, celebrity or not.

Clarity. We all need to talk about mental illness, celebrity or not.


  1. Well done Jenn. It takes courage to admit when you may have missed the mark. I honour your humble apology today. Well done! Keep up the beautiful writing!!

  2. Keep up the good work!

  3. I have enjoyed this discussion about celebrity disclosures. I suppose everyone who is willing to go public helps erase some of the stigma. however, that stigma isn’t created by our unwillingness to go public but by subtle ideas here and there that have creeped into someone’s thinking.
    If we are public we can at least put a light on the ignorance surrounding this illness. A long time ago Betty Ford went public about her alcohol addiction. that did a lot to bring addiction into the open.
    and then again she went public about her breast cancer and the need for ‘lumpectomies’ instead of radical mastectomies which were common back then. That helped bring light and progress to the way doctors treated breast cancer. She was a real pioneer for celebrities using their celebrity for the greater good.
    each of us may not possess that kind of power, exposure, that big a voice, but our stories hold the same value.
    recently I shared my story with a group of ladies. several commented after that they non knew things about mental illness that they didn’t know before. so the next time they encounter someone with any kind of depression they will have more compassion, more understanding…. the power of one. we all have power when we share our stories, whether we are a celebrity or not. thanks so much for sharing your story.
    I blog for some of the same reasons you do, to give encourage anyone to not give up. I also like to have a blog so that when I do meet others who are struggling, I can send them to my blog. somehow knowing me a bit as a real person gives what I might have to say credibility?
    You are doing great work here, don’t give up!

  4. Well said. We all need to freely share about mental illness. The stigma will always be present unless we give a voice and a face to the illnesses.

  5. It appears I am late to the party here, however I don’t see why you had to apologize in the first place. Not everyone can relate to everything. Isn’t that part of the reason why is so great when more and different people come forward? I was happy when Kristen bell came forth. I felt that the eloquently could put words to things that I felt but were unable to explain.

    I am new to your blog. But I am very happy to have found it. I look forward to your next updates.

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