Commentary: Hollywood is now the new capital of mental disorders, not entertainment

For many people inflicted with mental illness, their affliction makes them feel alone, confined in a bubble where nobody seems to understand or relate to what they’re going through.

Such is not the case with bipolar disorder.

There are many celebrities whose battle with the disorder has become public, whether by choice or not.

Some have chosen to come forward in an attempt to help everyday people affected by the disease, while others have had their bipolar struggles made a public affair through their inability to keep the disorder under control.

Pop singer Britney Spears is the most recent and most highly publicized case of that.

Her mental problems were made public last year when she had what ended up being almost daily public mood swings, such as deciding to shave her head one night, under the watchful eye of the Paparazzi.

It was finally revealed that she was bipolar after being admitted to the UCLA Medical Center in early February.

Former pro football player Dimitrius Underwood had many well-publicized bouts with bipolar disorder.

After being a first-round draft pick by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 1999, Underwood signed a $5 million contract and then left the team in training camp before the season ever started, citing a need to focus on his Christian faith.

Underwood decided to return to the NFL later that year and attempted suicide in September of 1999.

Following the incident, Underwood was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

He returned to the NFL in 2001, but once again attempted suicide.

Underwood has since been out of the league, but seems to have his illness somewhat under control.

Singer Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses exhibited signs of bipolar disorder for much of his early career, being arrested several times for assault and causing riots at shows by either deciding not to show up, or jumping into the crowd to attack fans whom he felt were being “disruptive.”

Rose disbanded the original band in 1994, and put together a new band that has been working on a new album, “Chinese Democracy,” since 1995.

His bipolar struggles have caused the album to still be unreleased, 14 years after porduction began on it.

Rose sheepishly came forward with his illness in the late ’80s, when he told an interviewer, “I went to a clinic, thinking it would help my moods. The only thing I did was take one 500-question test – ya know, filling in the little black dots. All of sudden I’m diagnosed manic-depressive.”

Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway was bipolar before anyone even knew what the word meant.

Hemingway had many public bouts with the illness before he committed suicide in 1961.

Then, it was just called “manic depression” and he was treated for many years with electroshock therapy.

Actor Ben Stiller is one celebrity who chose to come forward on his own accord to discuss it.

Stiller went public with his illness and bouts of depression in 2001 in an attempt to help others, in an interview with Hollywood.com.

Stiller was quoted as saying, “I have not been an easygoing guy. I think it’s called bipolar manic depression. I’ve got a rich history of that in my family. I’m not proud of the fact that I lost my temper. Sometimes you just (expletive) up.”

On the outside, it may not seem like a big consolation prize for a bipolar person to know that a bunch of famous people they will probably never meet are also suffering from the disorder.

However, for those affected by this often debilitating disease, it has to be comforting to know that they are not suffering alone, and that there are many others out there who understand what they are going through.