One day while riding a bus to work, soon after I arrived in England, I happened to be holding onto a £2 coin and started to inspect it. On the rim of this coin was the phrase "Standing on the shoulders of giants". Most £2 coins have it. I found this phrase very mysterious so I googled it. The Phrase finder describes the meaning of this phrase as this: "Using the understanding gained by major thinkers who have gone before in order to make intellectual progress". It was believed to be coined by 12th century theologian and author, John of Salisbury and was also prominently used by Sir Issac Newton.
All the great discoveries and inventions that we have today are because someone forged ahead into the unknown. I was thinking of this in regards to mental illness. There have been great scientific discoveries but I believe that what really cracked the stigma was when a few very brave and well known people came forward and spoke out. That's what has given the everyday man freedom. I am sure this has been done before, but the idea only came to me the other day: to research famous people with depression and mental illness. What I came up with surprised me. I have tried to select people that everyone will be familiar with.
This man is on my list of top 5 people I'd like to have a conversation with. There are so many things that I want to ask him. Churchill is believed to be the greatest prime minister England ever had and one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. He lead his country and the allies to victory in WWII. Yet through out his life Churchill often suffered prolonged and severe bouts of depression. He was the first person to use the term "Black dog" to describe his illness. He also had a speech impediment but many people believe that Churchill won the war by talking his way out of it. This may sound corny but often when I can't get out of bed I always think of him and wonder how the hell he did it. How did he get out of bed AND still go to war? This proves that depressives can sometimes achieve a whole lot more than non- depressives.
Vivien Leigh - Actress: Gone with the Wind/ Streetcar Named desire
If you have never seen "Gone with the Wind" where the hell have you been??. Vivien was a very talented, very beautiful Oscar- winning actress. But her whole life her health was marred by tuberculosis and what is now known as Biopolar disorder. This earned her the reputation of being difficult to work with. She was a recipient of ECT and once had to placed in a nursing home after a severe breakdown rendered her incapable of caring for herself.
J.K. Rowling - Author of Harry Potter
Rowling admitted in an interview that she had been diagnosed with clinical depression in the past and had experienced periods of being extremely suicidal. The feelings she experienced with depression inspired her to introduce " Dementors", soul- sucking creatures in the third book.
Drew Carey - Famous comedian
Drew Carey has tried to commit suicide twice by taking large doses of sleeping pills. He has said in interviews that he has always felt mad at the world and would use food and alcohol to try and numb his pain. He says he is on a "constant" road to recovery.
Brooke Shields- Actress
I really admire Brooke Shields because she spoke out about her experience which is still considered extremely taboo. Brooke had severe postpartum depression, which to me is probably the most devastating form of depression. She has said in interviews that she was overwhelmed with thoughts of harming her baby and the desire to commit suicide was with her every hour of every day. Fortunately she was surrounded by people who encouraged her to get help and she made a successful recovery. She has since been raising awareness for postpartum depression.
Kirsten Dunst - Actress
Kirsten has publicly admitted checking into rehab in 2008 to be treated for depression after being ill for about 6 months. She has said the reason for her going public was to highlight the struggle faced by so many successful women and to dispel rumors.
Kurt Cobain - Musician ( Nirvana )
I can remember the day he died so clearly. It was 1994 and the year that I first began feeling suicidal. Kurt had suffered a lifetime of depression, addiction, ADHD, bronchitis and was in constant severe pain from an undiagnosed stomach disorder. Yet it was these very killers of the soul that inspired some of the greatest music of his generation. We all know that depression can suck the life out of you...add everything else this poor guy had to deal with and and it was no wonder he met a very tragic end.
Abraham Lincoln - 16th president of the United States
Growing up in South Africa, the only American history I studied at school was The Great Depression ( yeah...how ironic...), so I didn't know that much about Mr. Lincoln until recently. And what I first heard about him surprised me. Many people that knew Lincoln described him as a very jovial character ( what a contrast to those stony- faced portraits ) but had also said he was very prone to melancholy aka depression in today's terms. Some historians believe he was Bipolar...he was known to weep in public. He spoke of suicide as a young man. This never detracted from the fact that he was one of the greatest presidents in US history. I read a fascinating article here