Depression and Practicing Self Confidence
No matter what anyone else believes about me--be it positive or negative--at the end of the day, their belief about me is still just an opinion. If someone believes that I am kind, that does not immediately translate for me that I then must be a kind person. If someone believes that I am lazy, that does not immediately translate for me that I then must be a lazy person.
Yet that is what we do sometimes. We take on others opinions as our own, as our own truth of who we are. If enough people tell us we are great, we think we are great. If enough people tell us we are rotten, we think we are rotten. And the real truth of who are is drowned out by what others think instead.
Rather than being able to look in the mirror at ourselves, we look to others to be our mirror. If we like what we see reflected in their eyes, we feel good about ourselves. If someone dismisses us, we feel worthless. Why such vulnerability?
I think it has to do with sensitivity to the amount of judgment received. If we do not have stable ground under our feet, or if we believe the stigma of mental illness as something to be ashamed about, we may become dependant on how others perceive us. We may have experienced doctors, therapists, friends, or family members who judged us and told us we were malingering, exaggerating how we feel, and if we wanted to get better we could--if only we tried harder.
If I in my daily life have struggled with these issues, what about celebrities whose lives are under a constant microscope? Particularly in young Hollywood where appearance is everything. I know that Britney Spears shaved her head. What I can only assume is that she is struggling, acting out, trying to discover what and who she is. To so many millions she is an icon, no longer a person. Does she believe this? Her much discussed MTV Awards "comeback" was labeled a disappointment by her fans. The blogs run amuck with criticism. She is labeled as "toxic" and "troubled." She is only 25 years old. She was caught in media spin before she was of legal age. I can't even imagine what it takes to keep one's bearings in that type of scenario. Only Ms. Spears knows. And only Ms. Spears can seek the treatment and make the decisions that are best for her.
Perhaps she is in a position where she is listening to others and not trusting her own opinion. Perhaps the whole routine for the opening act for the MTV Awards show was her idea. She did seem to lack energy, and it was clear she was lip syncing. For a live show, most acts chose to sing live. But with all the dancing, sometimes lip syncing is the best answer. Again, she made her choices--good, bad, indifferent--and it is up to no one to judge except the people who paid her for her opening act. They wanted pizzazz and they may not have been happy with the performance. But in reality, I think the producers only wanted ratings, and Ms. Spears, they knew, would bring in the ratings, if only for people to voyeur into her life for a moment. To me, it is not unlike all the people who crane their necks to look at a car accident on the side of the road. They want to see the wreckage. Her much publicized rehab stints, partying, and then the whole "comeback" media surge makes for good "wreckage" ratings.
Interesting as well about this MTV Awards show is that singer Amy Winehouse did not appear (and has canceled several shows) "in a continued effort to support [her] well-being." She may very well be currently in rehab or other health care facility. She is only 23 years old. The irony is that she was slated to sing, "Rehab," a song that is autobiographical regarding her own resistance to entering rehab earlier in life (although she did go). Her father-in-law has released a statement that fans should not buy her records to send the message to get clean with her addiction to drugs. Such purchase or non-purchase will do nothing when it comes to drug addiction. All the father-in-law is showing, in my opinion, is ignorance rather than support.
And in the end, all the speculation about what was right or wrong about Britney Spears' appearance is just an opinion. On her fan websites the fans debate what Ms. Spears "owes" them. So, a CD purchase means that she owes you something? When did that become part of the equation of celebrity?
For all the friends who have supported me, if I should try and still not perform up to their standards of excellence and perfection, do I owe them something more than the best I may offer for supporting me? If you support someone, you do it because you care: there are no strings attached. But in the world of celebrity, apparently the fans feel they are due.
Yes, it is clear and well-known that the media is over-the-top in the photos and reporting on each little detail of celebrity life. And if Ms. Spears and Ms. Winehouse are having issues with their well-being, then they have issues with their well-being. Period. End. Move on. Let health happen without judgment and speculation. Throwing opinions around may not be the best thing for these young celebrities to be taking in right now. And this leads me to question the mental health status of Americans.
Everyone--paparazzi, celebrities, common folk--have mental health issues. There is a non-profit organization, Mental Health America, which is committed to the mental well-being of all Americans [http://www.nmha.org/] and is a great resource. Mental Health America contends that all Americans are on a continuum of mental well-being and are committed to the mental health of all Americans--illness or not. Staying well requires education, paying attention, and knowing when to reach out for help. If these celebrities need to reach out for help, let us honor that and not stalk the trial and error of discovery for what it means to be healthy. If we as Americans need to know the spoils of other's lives, and comment and judge, what does that say about us?
This is my opinion, and in the end, it is yours that counts for you and how you choose to respond.