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7 Stars Living With Bipolar

The Huffington Post   Jordan K. Turgeon   First Posted: 07/26/11 03:47 PM ET   Updated: 09/25/11 06:12 AM ET

This past April, pop singer and Disney actress Demi Lovato went public about her bipolar disorder diagnosis. In interviews to the media, the 18-year-old said that she'd decided to talk about her diagnosis in order to help others. "The real reason why I'm sitting down with you," Lovato told ABC News, "is to open up the eyes of so many young girls, that it doesn't have to be this way."

Lovato's interview came close on the heels of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones' revelation of a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Within a few days, bipolar disorder, an often stigmatizing mental illness that affects an estimated 5.7 million Americans, was suddenly being openly talked about.

But Zeta-Jones and Lovato are only two of several celebrities who have come out and talked publicly about their experience with the often alienating disorder. Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder causes dramatic changes in mood, varying from one "pole" (high -- mania) to the other (low -- depression), according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen over time.

The following lists a handful of stars and public figures who, while still dealing with the illness, have not only become hugely successful but have also decided to spread the word. From actress Carrie Fisher to television anchor Jane Pauley, this slide show is the testament to the indomitable human spirit.

Their stories of triumph, and how a diagnosis changed their lives for the better, serve as inspiration for others who may be struggling with bipolar disorder, silently or publicly.

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  • Lark Voorhies

    The "Saved By The Bell" actress's mother told <em>People</em> magazine Voorhies has been <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20635697,00.html">diagnosed with bipolar disorder</a>, after <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/10/saved-by-the-bell-star-lark-voorhies-has-bipolar-disorder-mom-says/">video from an interview taped for Yahoo!</a> in which Voorhies seemed to struggle through her answers went viral, ABC News reported. "There are things that have traumatized her," her mother Tricia told <em>People</em>, but <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20635697,00.html">the actress maintains that she isn't sick</a>.

  • Jesse Jackson Jr.

    The Mayo Clinic released a statement in August that the congressman and son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/jesse-jackson-jr-bipolar-_n_1773433.html" target="_hplink">receiving treatment for bipolar II depression</a>, after taking an unexplained medical leave two months earlier. His wife had previously <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/04/jesse-jackson-jr_n_1742382.html" target="_hplink">called his depression "debilitating"</a>, the AP reported. The Mayo Clinic has stated he was responding well to treatment.

  • Demi Lovato

    After spending three months in a rehab facility for bulimia, anorexia, cutting and depression, Lovato also announced she'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lovato told <em>People</em> magazine <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20483380,00.html" target="_hplink">she didn't know she had the disorder</a> until she entered treatment. Lovato told AOL Music she <a href="http://blog.music.aol.com/2011/07/21/demi-lovato-skyscraper-rehab/" target="_hplink">plans to continue speaking out </a>about her experience to help others. "I feel like it's no coincidence that God put me through all of this and has also given me the voice that I have. I feel like my purpose on earth is much greater than just being a singer, a musician or actress. I think it's to reach out to people and to raise awareness of these issues that not many people speak about."

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

    Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones publicly disclosed her diagnosis after seeking treatment. Though she wasn't initially going to come public (on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," husband Michael Douglas said he <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOmH9M4-ZlHk" target="_hplink">suspects someone at the hospital </a>leaked information to the press), Zeta-Jones has nonetheless voiced her support for those who also suffer from bipolar disorder. In an interview with <em>People</em>, Zeta-Jones said there is <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.people.com%2Fpeople%2Farticle%2F0%2C%2C20483309%2C00.html&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHb0YcIEs1RlfUJc_pDHH_f561kog" target="_hplink">"no need to suffer silently,"</a> and that if her speaking up encourages just one person to seek help of their own, then her experience was worth it.

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme

    The action star told E! Online he was being <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder-pictures/famous-people-with-bipolar-disorder.aspx#/slide-4" target="_hplink">treated for bipolar disorder</a> with the drug sodium valproate, Everyday Health reported. "Since I'm doing that it's, like, BOOM! In one week, I felt it kick in. All the commotion around me, all the water around me, moving left and right around me, became like a lake," he said.

  • Amber Portwood

    The reality TV star has experienced a number of high-profile ups and downs on camera. She told <em>People</em> magazine that she takes medication for bipolar disorder after being <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20502981,00.html" target="_hplink">diagnosed in 2008</a>. "I don't think I'm bipolar, to be honest with you," she said at the time. "I'm just really outgoing. I think everybody thinks they're bipolar these days. You're a teenager, you have hormones. You're gonna switch up every two seconds!" But she spoke more vulnerably <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/279100/teen-mom-s-amber-portwood-i-ve-been-diagnosed-with-extreme-bipolar-and-disassociative-disorder" target="_hplink">about her diagnosis later with E! News</a>, saying "I struggle with it. I hate it. I grieve over it" of her diagnosis.

  • Sinead O'Connor

    In 2007, Grammy-winning artist Sinead O'Connor appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to talk about her battle with bipolar disorder. She said receiving treatment for the disorder <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.oprah.com%2Fhealth%2FUnderstanding-Bipolar-Disorder%2F4%23slideshow&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNH4MY_Fwhv-hogwsgQF5vh8dlVLbw" target="_hplink">made her reborn</a> and gave her at chance at building a new life.

  • Michael Angelakos

    In July, after canceling a number of the band's tour dates, Passion Pit's lead singer told <em>Rolling Stone</em> he had been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/05/michael-angelakos-passion-pit-bipolar-disorder_n_1744463.html" target="_hplink">diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 18</a> and was experiencing a particularly debilitating bout of depression when the band was set to tour, HuffPost reported. "My depression was so bad three weeks ago when we had to cancel everything -- people don't understand this. People don't understand that <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/passion-pit-singer-on-battling-mental-illness-and-taking-new-songs-on-the-road-20120804" target="_hplink">it's not just debilitating; it's all-encompassing</a>," he told <em>Rolling Stone</em>.

  • Carrie Fisher

    Fisher first publicly discussed her experience with bipolar disorder with Diane Sawyer in 2000, telling Sawyer she was convinced for many years <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fabcnews.go.com%2FPrimetime%2Fstory%3Fid%3D132315%26page%3D1&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFLybkKZWWhJE-aqv9VFMow8K1kSQ" target="_hplink">she was a drug addict</a> before finding out she was manic depressive. Fisher has since been very open about her struggle with the disorder, including the <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DHUrZ21n32uQ" target="_hplink">time she spent in a mental hospital </a>following a particularly difficult episode. "At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring lots of stamina and even more courage," Fisher wrote in her <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWishful-Drinking-Carrie-Fisher%2Fdp%2F1439102252&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNEf-vwrc82jVrWCDKnSGe4INPgZrw" target="_hplink">2008 memoir "Wishful Drinking."</a> "So if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of."

  • Patty Duke

    The Academy Award-winning actress was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 35 years old. In an interview with "Everyday Health," Duke said the <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.everydayhealth.com%2Fdepression%2Fmylife%2Fpatty_duke%2Flanding.aspx&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNH7e5EfIZSYT0Qo7JqE2qhT5--xng" target="_hplink">diagnosis came as a relief</a>, because it meant she wasn't the only person in the world feeling the way she did. In her memoir <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FBrilliant-Madness-Living-Depressive-Illness%2Fdp%2F0553560727%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_1" target="_hplink">"A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic-Depressive Illness"</a>, Duke says she knew from a young age there was something wrong with her, "but I thought it was just that I was not a good person, that I didn't try hard enough." Duke has been an advocate for bipolar disorder awareness for years. She's spoken out about her experience on numerous occasions, including on "20/20," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and during a 1997 interview with Barbara Walters on "The View." Duke told Walters <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQfoTxHSmRAs%26feature%3Drelated" target="_hplink">she considered herself lucky</a> to have had "access to the media, to write a book and talk about" her experience. Duke continues to speak out; in 2005, she was asked to testify before Congress on mental health-related issues.

  • Jane Pauley

    The former "Dateline" NBC host discussed her <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5887567/ns/dateline_nbc-books/t/jane-pauley-shares-her-story/" target="_hplink">bipolar disorder diagnosis</a> in a 2004 interview with Matt Lauer. After struggling with minor depression for several months and not getting better, Pauley said she was shocked when the doctor explained she was actually suffering from bipolar disorder. In her 2004 memoir <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Skywriting-Life-Blue-Jane-Pauley/dp/140006192X" target="_hplink">"Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue,"</a> Pauley writes she doesn't know if or when she'll have another bipolar episode, but that she's now adapted and learned to be more aware of her moods and how she's feeling. "The world has not become spontaneously organized to make accommodations for my weaknesses while nurturing my newly discovered strengths," Pauley wrote.

  • Linda Hamilton

    The star of "Terminator" told Larry King in 2005 that the <a href="http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0510/14/lkl.01.html" target="_hplink">bigger her life and career grew</a>, the worse her mental health and bipolar disorder became. And because she suffered from depression while growing up, Hamilton said she now has a very open dialogue with her children and reminds them it's okay to speak up about their feelings. In a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdSA2Bk4riA" target="_hplink">2006 interview for "Sidewalks</a>," Hamilton described the mood swings she often suffered before being diagnosed and receiving proper care for the condition. "I like to speak out to let people know that they're not alone," Hamilton said.

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