Beyond Blue

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:

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