Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

People’s Profile of Catherine Zeta Jones and Bipolar II

I must admit, when I picked up the copy of People magazine with Catherine Zeta Jones on the cover, I was nervous to read what was between the covers. Because I don’t trust Hollywood’s coverage of mood disorders. I mean, they don’t have a great track record. There are exceptions: Brooke Shields comes to mind. But far too often we read about the whackjob movie star who cracks in half and heads to the psych ward to be fixed, only to be found out by the paparazzi.


I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked, really, to see how open and frank and compassionate Catherine sounded when describing her growing depression and anxiety over the last years, and her efforts at regaining composure and confidence. She defies every stereotype the media wants to pin on her, and emerges a hero, instead of a pathetic star.

Especially consoling to me were the paragraphs discussing her attempts to seem normal and go on with everything as though she weren’t suffering inside, and that few people really were able to see through the masquerade. Journalists Sharon Cotliar and Michelle Tauber write:

Amid mounting feelings of depression, the Tony-winning performer who relished singing live before thousands became anxious at the thought of simply meeting a few friends at a restaurant. “The simple things would just seem overwhelming, like going out to dinner,” says her friend. “She would almost have to psych herself up to be able to do it. I didn’t fit with our Catherine.”


She did such a good job of masking her troubles that few in her circle realized how seriously she was struggling. “To be honest Catherine functioned quite well,” says a longtime colleague. Still in phone conversations, “you could just feel in the tone of her voice a degree of sadness,” adds the colleague. “I just knew that something wasn’t quite right.”

I found that description refreshing because you tend to think of Hollywood stars as superhuman with a fairytale existence, immune to mood disorders or any illness for that matter. Which is why magazines like People write about them when something bad does happen. For me, there’s something consoling in knowing that this beautiful celebrity was fighting for her sanity every day just like I did, and still do on some days, that she had to do what I do: put one foot in front of another until she finds herself walking with little effort.

Photo of Catherine Zeta-Jones:

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sally

    I couldn’t agree more. It took courage for her to admit she suffered with mental illness and is inspiring to others that a “normal” life can be achieved despite our illness.

  • Cristi Comes

    I’m not usually big on celebrity news but its so encouraging to see someone in the limelight with such influence over the masses speaking openly about her mood disorder without fear or shame. Its very inspiring to see that courage coming from someone who could easily be vilified in the media.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Christina W

    I agree it will help hundreds, probably thousands, that Ms. Jones has been open about her struggle..what I don’t care for is, from what I have read, is there any mention of whether medication and therapy were involved – are involved – in her fight against the depression and anxiety. It sounds as though she checked in for a week, was “outed” by someone staying there, and now all is well. Brooke Shields and, I can’t recall her name now but the actress who played Jennifer Melfi on the Sopranos – are the only two I can think of that actually stated they took/take medication. Carrie Fisher and Patty Duke are also well known for speaking out for Bipolar and of course, Mrs. Rosyln Carter has always been an advocate for mental health.
    I, like everyone on here I guess, am dealing with depression and anxiety is a way I have NEVER felt it before in my life. I am currently not in therapy or on medication. I resist both of these and cannot pinpoint why – except everything I read about medication is negative – I don’t want to be physically sick on top of mentally unwell. It’s a narrow plank for me. I wish I knew more of the success of medication therapy – people like Ms. Jones can put that out there instead of those of us who are on the fence reading blogs where we read the medications will do everything from make you violently ill to your hair falling out..

  • Vilda Brannen, M.S., LPC

    As a professional counselor specializing in the management and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder, I am delighted to see Catherine Zeta Jones join the ranks of those willing to present themselves as suffering from these illnesses of the brain. I hope her status and influence will help others seek the treatment and help they need. Finding a caring professional team can be the most helpful thing for a person with depression and bipolar disorder. The medications if dosed properly along with some good therapy can help persons with bipolar disorder lead “normal” lives. Catherine’s story is evidence of this. I praise her courage.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tracy

    My daughter was diagnosed bipolar type II last summer and the diagnosis was confirmed when she responded to medication used to treat this disporder. She has been able to lead a fairly normal life, no self-mutilation or suicide attempts since that time. Life is not a bed of roses, but most days are very much improved over the previous two years when each morning my husband and I thought we would find her dead in her room by her own hand. Don’t fear the medication, but make sure the diagnosis is correct. We tried all meds used to treat depression and they didn’t work, because she had bipolar depression. When we switched to a mood satbilizer, she was better within a week.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jm

    I question Hollywood and Bipolar, when Brad Pitt once quoted,catherine could outdrink the guys. Or the excess cocaine and alcohol abuse from Demi Lovato is now Bipolar. I think being labled Bipolar is more acceptable than being called an alcoholic or drug addict.

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