Celebrities are mostly perceived as infallible and larger-than-life human beings who are immune to the problems faced by general public. As it turns out, some of celebrities are no different from common individuals when it comes to their mental health. Singer Robbie Williams, widely regarded as the United Kingdom’s most successful solo artist ever, recently disclosed the devastating state of his mental health. In an interview published on Feb. 27, 2018, the “Feel” singer described his depression as a disease which wanted to kill him.
In the past, Williams has been open about his battles with obesity, drug addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, stage fright and low self-esteem. Many of these issues go back to the time when he was a member of the British pop band “Take That”, which he later quit to pursue a solo career. He has previously admitted his addiction to morphine, cocaine, magic mushrooms, Adderall, Vicodin, and other substances. In 2007, on the day he turned 33, Williams checked into rehab to treat his prescription drug addiction.
Williams’ depression is attributed as the underlying cause of his chronic substance abuse. In September 2017, the singer was rushed to intensive care after brain scans revealed “abnormalities” which appeared to be blood. Williams, who was in the middle of a European tour, had to cancel the last two shows due to his hospitalization. He admitted that his addiction to a cocktail of drugs brought him to the brink of death several times.
Global fame and spotlight worsened mental illnesses
Williams revealed that although depression ran in his family, its effect would have probably not been as pronounced if it wasn’t “for fame.” Living in the public eye made the depression so “gross” and “powerful” that it completely overwhelmed him. He likened the global adulation he received to a magnifying glass which augmented his “defects.” His addiction to drugs started when he only 16 years old, initially using acid (LSD) and speed (amphetamine) and gradually progressing to cocaine, heroin and other drugs.
In 2003, Williams disclosed that he had been taking antidepressants for a year to control his depression, a condition which he attributed to his habit of using ecstasy. According to him, ecstasy made the brain release an “awful amount of serotonin” which felt great at the time but left a feeling of emptiness after its effect had worn out. He also claimed in a previous interview that although marijuana was a “lovely drug”, it did not agree with him.
The drug-related deaths of other celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith, had an influence on Williams. However, it was the passing away of singer George Michael in 2016 which affected Williams the most. It made him realize that “everybody’s heroes disappear” and that he needed to reassess his life’s priorities, especially since he was 44 years old and had two children. Williams received immense support from musician Elton John during his worst addiction phase.
Society’s changing approach toward mental health issues
According to Williams, society’s approach toward mental health issues has changed, with more people engaging in conversations about such conditions. This was not the case several years ago when the singer was grappling with depression and “didn’t understand what it was.” The shame he suffered due to his condition made him an introvert and nearly forced him to retire. However, Williams also mentioned that he sometimes used his depression as a tool to get himself on stage.
Individuals suffering from mental health issues often use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. Conversely, the use of substances can also lead to the onset of depression, anxiety or other psychiatric illnesses. When an individual experiences a substance use disorder and a mental illness simultaneously, it is called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. In 2016, an estimated 0.3 million adolescents aged 12-17 (1.4 percent of the age group) had a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) and major depressive episode (MDE).
Adolescents who experience co-occurring SUDs and mental illnesses need specialized care. Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, a leading substance abuse and teen mental health facility in the United States, offers state-of-the-art dual diagnosis treatment. To find out more about our teen dual diagnosis rehab centers, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our experts.