Celebrity benevolence

In order to write this blog post I must make a confession. But let me begin by setting the scene: it's currently that weird week between Christmas and New Years, when no-one knows what's going on or who they are. I have the week off work, I'm living out of a suitcase at home, I can't seem to stop spending in the January sales, despite it still being December and neither I can't stop eating chocolate. Now that you can hopefully understand my state of mind you can read the next statement without judgement: yesterday I watched Piers Morgan's Life Stories... with Peter Andre. In my defence, it was one of those 'I'll put this on to fall asleep to' programs. However I didn't fall asleep. I was actually slightly impressed, somehow.
Aside from the lovely topic of Katie Price (for those of you unaware, she's an author), parts of the interview actually pleasantly surprised me. Peter talked about his battle with anxiety and panic attacks, and briefly of being hospitalised. After he cogitated out-loud about the breakdown of his family with a stiff upper lip, he broke down in tears when it came to talking about his experience with panic attacks. He then said:

"If the breakdown of a marriage doesn't make you cry, a panic attack will".

Unfortunately, Peter explained that 'a panic attack lasts about 25 minutes' and talked very generally without pointing out that they differ from one person to the next. He said that he eventually sought help and described walking into a psychiatric hospital and thinking that he didn't belong there. That's a fair comment, I'm sure many people would feel the same, but the way in which he said it could come across offensively. Aside from this, his outlook on anxiety was raw, honest and inspiring.

I know I'm already portraying myself in a bad light, and I'm a fine believer in not doing anything half-heartedly. So I might as well admit that I have also recently been reading dancer Louie Spence's autobiography, which, similarly, details his life with anxiety. Just as Peter Andre, Louie explains what happens to him during a panic attack. He says that he believes anxiety to be hereditary and that it's just something he has had to accept as a part of him. What the two men have in common is their ability to recognise that anxiety isn't something that easily disappears, but can resurface throughout life.

While I think it's a good step that those in the public eye feel comfortable talking about anxiety a positive way, I feel that there is a slight danger when what is said is not controlled. For sufferers of mental illness, it's a positive step that those in the public eye have the ability to make someone feel less alone - the only worry is that coming from a single perspective overlooks the fact that anxiety and panic attacks differ from one person to another - which could leave people misinformed.

Of course, it's not the first time celebrities have spoken openly about mental illness - but this is usually depression-related, with anxiety being less frequently mentioned. Both accounts proved that suffering with a mental illness can have little effect on living out your ambitions, and if it dispels some of the thoughts and stereotypes surrounding mental illness, then these two have done a great thing with their celebrity status- who'd have know it, Peter Andre?

1 comment:

  1. For me, anxiety is about authority, and actually dogma. Its about structure, or LACK of it in the given situation. It, for me, relates back to your family and specifically your parents (Andre being from a particularly 'close knit' family), and the absence of what they told you about how 'life really is' and you finding out differently for yourself. Thinking for yourself. Its about a North Korean (Okay, maybe I'm being extreme, But maybe not) in Soho. Anxiety is not knowing whats going to happen. That's life. Life is the ultimate unknown. Sometimes families can isolate you from that, and indoctrinate. Especially religious families. (My utter disdain for religion aside, its still about structure). It is great that they speak about it. But I am not so sure that, aside the medical profession, they really address it publicly, because that also means addressing your family. You can do that in a closed session. But not if you are being interviewed prime time.

    But thats just me.