Disney teen turned X Factor judge Demi Lovato has been refreshingly open about everything from her struggle with anorexia and depression to her disdain for Hollywood’s body standards. This month in Cosmo, she talks about how “relieved” she was when she got diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010.
“I felt relieved when I found out,” she tells Cosmo. “Like I’m not completely crazy; there’s a medical reason for all of it.”
It’s funny: There was a time when actually getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or ‘manic depression,’ as it was called in the old days) would have been seen as much worse than just being labeled erratic or eccentric or melancholy. Now, Lovato says that the diagnosis itself, that label, made her feel like she’s not crazy, because it means there’s a biological reason for her issues. It shows how far we’ve come in treating mental health problems like physical health problems (because they are).
Of course, there’s still plenty of stigma attached to mental health problems. We’ve come far, but we’ve got a ways to go, too—which is why it’s so cool to see Lovato being open about her disorder. Although it might be nice if she skipped using the term “crazy” altogether as a description, at least she’s putting it out there that there is a medical reason for bipolar disorder. That’s important.
I was listening to a woman speak last week about getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and how she was glad to be diagnosed early because then she could take action. I know it’s a totally different context, but I thought about that when I read this quote from Lovato today. Whether it’s Alzheimer’s or bipolar disorder or cancer or chlamydia, I guess, the uncertainty can be torture. But having a diagnosis, even if it’s not a pleasant one, gives you a chance to accept, understand and address the illness.
That’s exactly what it sounds like Lovato is doing:
“It’s a daily thing, you don’t get time off from it,” she said about the disease. “And if I feel myself slipping back into old patterns, I have to ask others for help.”
Catherine Zeta Jones, another celebrity who has been open about being bipolar, also discussed the disorder in print recently. Jones told Spanish magazine IO Donna that ”those who suffer from bipolar depression” shouldn’t feel alone because there are millions in the same situation. ”Know that … you are not the only one to have some terrible moments,” she added. ”We must talk about it, see a specialist and not withdraw into ourselves.”