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.