If I could avoid it–and exit the grocery store without accidentally reading tabloid headlines–I wouldn’t follow the details of Paris Hilton’s life. And even if I was one of those people truly fascinated by her, like my sister is, I would deny it–like Jerry Seinfeld did about watching “Melrose Place” until the female cop he was dating made him take a lie detector test.
If you check out the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, you’ll get breaking news on the latest Hilton out-of-jail/ordered-to-court-again/possible-mental-breakdown development.
The only part that interests me is the public’s take on the “head stuff” (as opposed to the rumor that Hilton had been released because she’d come down with a nasty rash). And my first reaction is similar to how I felt when the Virginia Tech story turned into a national debate about mental illness: yuck.
Because our public discussions of mental illness, once again, aren’t exactly the nuanced and informative conversations that can help persons who are truly struggling from mood disorders and anxiety issues.
If I didn’t publish my diary of depression every day online, this story would make me want to bury any file I had with a psychiatrist way, way back in my filing cabinet. And God help the person just coming to terms with his own biochemical and neurological impediment (including altered patterns of brain activity and possible structural damage to the brain) because he will most likely go underground for another five years, when we finally get a story about someone not so rich and pretty and popular/unpopular going crazy.
I pray for Paris if she is hurting—I wouldn’t wish mental anguish on anyone–but I also pray that her legacy doesn’t further establish depression as a rich, white, privileged disease. Because it’s so not.