Celebrity stress and us

John, the editor of the MovieBlog dropped in a post that I’m non too keen on usually, celebrity gossip, stories about celebrities and their personal lives. Frankly I don’t think they relate to the Movie Industry and I do feel for the celebrities who have their private lives intruded upon. Yet although this was on quite a contentious topic, John wrote it in a really interesting way, and his comment made me think.

Life is hard sometimes… and sometimes we’re the ones who make it hard on ourselves. We all do it from time to time. What separates the men from the boys is how we deal with stuff once it becomes an issue.
John Campea, The Movie Blog

It made me think how we single out these celebrities who decide to head into rehab or something similar and get themselves straight, and we look at these people and their actions with surprise and often disdain.

Yet why? They have probably felt something we have, something exceedingly common, and because of their lifestyles and the circles they mix both officially and socially, they can become caught up in habits that perhaps we wouldn’t.

I’m surprised how many people I have discovered have suffered from some form of stress in their lives, and I don’t mean a little headache and feeling pressured, I mean serious stress that has lead to a breakdown of confidence and of who they are.

I’ve discovered many friends and colleagues and even family who have been hit with stress, and the common reaction is the path towards a collapse of your personality and confidence.

For the movie star you could imagine the difference. They are regularly changing who they are and being someone different, as well as hiding and protecting who they are from almost everyone they meet, just in case they get stung with a lawsuit, a media exposé, or just a mad fan. At the same time they are under so much pressure to keep working, to keep in the public eye, after all their image is their career.

We working people, well we don’t suffer from any of that and when we start to collapse we have opportunities to recognise it and seek help, help which is all to readily made available nowadays privately and through our jobs.

Of course, that does assume that your work is stress-friendly and they don’t treat stress as a permanent mental illness for example. It’s not. People recover, movie stars or workers, we all recover. We just need to heed the warning signs, listen to our friends, family and colleagues, and take some positive action. That’s why I agree with John in that Joaquin Phoenix has taken a strong and positive step in going into rehab. Likewise those of us who have, or are, suffering from some form of stress make that same strong decision to seek help.

For me it didn’t begin the moment I acknowledged I was stressed, it began the very second the words came out of my mouth to my Doctor. “I think I’m suffering from stress”. In fact I don’t even think I managed to get the words out before I was crying like there was no tomorrow and totally unable to stop.

I still hold back talking about that and am deliberately very cautious, some employers still think of it as permanent and a serious problem. I’ve seen it on a new employee questionnaire, a tickbox underneath Permanent Mental Illness marked stress. Well, it’s not. It does mean time out of work, but I actually think I’m a stronger and better person now I’ve been through it and coped with it. Why can’t they?

It’s also not a bad thing to acknowledge or to fall apart, without sounding too Dr Phil-esque, it was definitely the start of getting myself sorted. Acknowledge the problem and then start a positive action to rectify it.

I didn’t need rehab though, thankfully although I love red wine I’m not an alcoholic. I may have been at some point, Tequila-Vodka-Red Bull mixers with Beer, more Tequila, etc, etc on one night out would perhaps warrant that title, but you know, I’m Scottish, we drink a lot, and if I was in that class you can sure as hell bet all my friends were too.

What I did use is counselling, and I’m sure Mr Pheonix will be going through a lot of that as part of the rehab. To be honest I originally thought that this was complete, how would you say, wank, and I totally resisted it. When the mere mention of my Father was made at one point during the first few sessions I looked at her and threw back some put down. My parents did not mess me up thank you. They tried – kidding!

There was a slow change though, from struggling to talk about things and being guided towards something more than a few sentences, I’d be open and talking for quite a bit of the hour about me feelings, what I thought was the cause, how I could fix it, etc.

Now I’m not saying that was the miracle cure, no, that was down to myself and the way I addressed issues and dealt with them. The counselling just guided me towards what I should be looking at and how I should be dealing with the issues, as well as just standing up and admitting what the problems were.

So, what am I saying, I’ve kind of written my way around the topic here. I guess I’m really saying a few things. To be succinct:

  • We shouldn’t judge celebrities when we hear them entering rehab, judge them as you would a work colleague, friend or family member
  • There are many, many people who are and have suffered from stress, if you are, you aren’t the only one, look around
  • Stress is not a permanent illness, it’s just temporary and it can be rectified
  • Seek help, and don’t be scared of how you feel or showing it
  • …and here’s some good wishes for Joaquin.

1 comment on “Celebrity stress and us”

  1. Simone Reply

    That was indeed a very brave thing to do Richard and I couldnt agree more with the points youve raised above. I was misty-eyed by the time I finished your post.

    When I went for this job interview where I currently work, one of the panelists asked me this question, “How do you deal with stress?” I didnt even have to think my answer through and I quickly replied, “I thrive on stress. I actually feel that I work more efficiently when stressed or when my back is against the wall. But I do find time to de-stress myself by taking up a hobby, so its not just all work I can think about”. 4 years into this job and I really couldnt say that my work has stressed me out to my limits, I feel tired yes but give me days off and I am back on my feet again. But that’s me, and not everyone can cope with stress the way I could. Stress can come in any way, shape or form.

    We do live in the most stressful times and failing to acknowledge that even the best of us will actually succumb to it isnt at all going to help, we are all vulnerable to the pressures, be it work, our relationships with others and basically the society as a whole. So for a stress-sufferer this is the time when you need your family and friends close by for all the support that you need. Sometimes what you really need is just someone to listen to you, that they dont even have to say anything. My problem is I live away from my family so I really have just myself, but I find that leading an enriching spiritual life will also help one go through such a difficult time. Saying that taking up a hobby that takes your mind off anything that can cause you stress is also worthwhile.

    Rich, I hope your job at The Movie Blog is not really stressing you out. *winks* Because I always look forward to what you have got to say in there.

    Cheers!

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