These artists are talking about their experiences with bipolar and music to help raise awareness of mental health.
Singer-songwriter Sia Furler is renowned for her eccentric ways of hiding her face (wigs, masks, paint) when performing, but she’s now very public about her diagnosis and has been open about living with bipolar and battling addictions. Sia, who’s been called a “genius” by the likes of Beyoncé, for whom she has written song lyrics, is perhaps best known for her smash hit “Chandelier,” and the music video that amassed more than 2.2 billion YouTube views.
#2 Pete Wentz
Best known as the bassist and vocalist/lyricist for rock band Fall Out Boy, Wentz has been candid in talking about his struggles with bipolar. On the biggest misconception of the illness: “I think the idea there is a one-size-fits-all [treatment plan] is one of those myths. Everyone figures themselves out in a different way…. There’s no shame in talking about [bipolar].” His upcoming joint tour with Green Day, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy has been postponed until 2021.
#3 Odean Pope
At the age of 73, the renowned jazz musician (and tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader) publicly revealed he had been battling bipolar for 30 years, in the hopes he could help others. “I had finally realized that through the proper diagnosis and the proper medication, [it] can be controlled and for those of you who might be struggling with this, there’s nothing to be ashamed of—it’s an illness and it can be controlled.” Odean Pope, now 81, is still touring, but has rescheduled a number of dates, given the physical-distancing restrictions.
#4 Selena Gomez
In early April 2020, during a public health crisis, Selena Gomez quietly but candidly revealed her bipolar diagnosis on fellow celebrity Miley Cyrus’s Instagram talk show, “Bright Minded: Live.” Once diagnosed, Gomez said she learned everything she could, which reduced her fears, and she said the knowledge “empowers” her instead of holding her back. Gomez has recently signed on with HBO Max for 10 episodes of a quarantine cooking show that she will produce and star in and that is slated to debut this summer.
#5 Matthew Good
Matthew Good is a Canadian musician/producer and two-time Juno Award winner. Before being diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in 2006, he described having a manic depressive episode: “At the best, imagine the thing you fear worst, imagine being shoved in a coffin with it and then buried underground and then having that coffin start shrinking. At its worst, imagine that, times a thousand.” His most recent album, Moving Walls, was released in 2019, with tour dates rescheduled to the fall of 2020.
#6 Bebe Rexha
This Grammy-nominated singer announced her bipolar diagnosis to her 1.6 million Twitter followers in April 2019 and received massive positive feedback from her fans. “I’m bipolar and I’m not ashamed anymore,” read the tweet. While Bebe Rexha says stigma surrounding mental health conditions is on the decline, the same is not true for bipolar, which can often be referred to in derogatory terms. “I won’t allow it to label me. It’s something that I’m going through, but it’s not me,” she told Self magazine.
#7 Adam Ant
The former frontman of the new wave group Adam and the Ants said after nearly 20 years of touring and trying to remain “top dog,” he finally began taking medication and dealing with his illness. He told Rolling Stone: “The whole subject of bipolar disorder is in its infancy in terms of the public being aware of it is an illness and not a disease, and not a kind of terminal thing where you have to feel shame.” Ant’s expanded Friend or Foe US tour has been rescheduled for Spring 2021.
#8 Kristin Hersh
American indie singer-songwriter and author Hersh, formed rock bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave and also did solo projects. In describing her early work, Hersh told the Guardian, “I let bipolar disorder color those songs. Their angry, edgy nature reflected the sound inside my head.” She also credits acupuncture for eliminating her bipolar symptoms. Throwing Muses’ tenth album, Sun Racket, will be released in September 2020.
#9 Steven Page
The singer-songwriter was the founding member and lead singer for Barenaked Ladies, which he left in 2009 to pursue solo projects. Page revealed his bipolar diagnosis publicly in 2011 and said he’d gone through “periods of self-medicating in order to relieve the symptoms.” In 2020, he co-wrote the musical Here’s What It Takes for the Stratford Festival in Canada.
#10 Mariah Carey
The platinum-selling singer revealed to People magazine in 2018 that she’s been secretly living with a bipolar II diagnosis for almost two decades, and she’s now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar. She said she “lived in denial and isolation” for years and finally sought treatment after a series of professional and romantic issues. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating,” she said.
#11 Charley Pride
Country singer and icon Charley Pride, 86, was diagnosed with bipolar back in 1968. His story was part of a PBS American Masters documentary titled Charley Pride: I’m Just Me, which aired in February 2019. It tells the story how Pride, once working in the Mississippi cotton fields, is now enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame. The country legend still tours but has rescheduled dates in 2020 due to physical-distancing restrictions.
#12 Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato, the award-winning, platinum-selling recording artist and mental health advocate brought her bipolar management back on track after suffering a relapse in 2018. “I make sure I stay on my medications. I go to AA meetings. I do what I can physically…” In March 2020, she released her new single and music video for I Love Me, and it already hit No. 1 on the Digital Song Sales chart. Most recently, and during this time of physical distancing, Lovato is one of a number of artists filming mini concerts in 360° so it can be viewed with a virtual-reality headset. Hers can be viewed on ceek.com.
#13 Max Bemis
Bemis, lead singer and guitarist for the band Say Anything, revealed his bipolar diagnosis in 2014 and features the topic in many of his songs. It took him three years to accept his diagnosis, and he offers this advice to others: “You’re not alone … there are so many cool people with these issues. These issues make you cool in your own way.” Bemis is also a comic-book writer, and he penned a four-part series, Polarity, which tells the story of a hero with bipolar. His band’s eighth studio album, Oliver Appropriate, was released in 2019.
#14 Scott Stapp
frontman for hard-rock bands Creed and Art of Anarchy, Scott Stapp had a public
breakdown—mania with incidents of paranoia and delusional behavior. At the
time, he blamed the breakdown on an interaction between his antidepressants and an “unprescribed medication.” In an interview with Rolling
Stone, Stapp spoke about bipolar: “It’s hard to understand … a disease that
you can’t see physically. There’s no cast. There’s no wheelchair, but it’s
debilitating. It can destroy your life because it’s hard to understand.” Stapp
is pushing back tour dates of the Survivor Tour to late summer 2020, to promote
his newest album, The Space Between the Shadows.
#15 Mary Lambert
A singer-songwriter, poet, and spoken-word artist, Mary Lambert even sings about bipolar disorder: “I’ve got bi-polar disorder / my s—’s not in order.” On her steps toward self-care, she told bp Magazine: “I started working on what was necessary for me to function and feel better…. I’m really grateful for that time, which is when I also stopped smoking and learned how to eat better.” She calls her latest album, Grief Creature, an “ode to mental illness.”
#16 Justin Steward Furstenfeld
Furstenfeld is best known as the lead singer-songwriter of the alt-rock band Blue October, but he also channels his creativity into painting, writing, and both collaborating with other performers—such as with Harvard of the South—and going solo. When he performs solo, Furstenfeld goes by “5591,” which he reports as his identification number at an inpatient facility. This Is What I Live For, Blue October’s upcoming album, is due out in September 2020.
The popular singer-songwriter was diagnosed at age 17, following a suicide attempt. The pop sensation said she has been hospitalized twice due to bipolar episodes. “The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic…. I feel everything around me so much,” Halsey said in an interview with Elle magazine. In January 2020, she released her album Manic.
#18 Craig Owens
Craig Owens is the former lead vocalist of Chiodos who now fronts Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.). In a public statement issued after his 2008 suicide attempt, he wrote: “Why did this happen? … I have been battling with manic depression, bipolar disorder, and constant anxiety attacks for years.” He also credited his survival and strength to the support of his family, friends, and fans—and therapy. In February 2020, Owens and D.R.U.G.S. released the song “King I Am.”
#19 Beth Hart
This Grammy-nominated blues/soul/gospel musician has been described as one of the best female vocalists people have never heard of. After revealing her bipolar diagnosis, she went on to release her most recent album War in My Mind, with her tour rescheduled for 2021. “I’ve come a long way with healing, and I’m comfortable with my darknesses, weirdnesses, and things that I’m ashamed of—as well as all the things that make me feel good.”
#20 Ray Davies
Davies is best known as the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the English group the Kinks and now is a solo artist. According to the biography Ray Davies: A Complicated Life, author Johnny Rogan recounts that Davies was diagnosed with bipolar in 1973, following a suicide attempt. His last album, Our Country: Americana Act II, was released in 2018.
Tanya Hvilivitzky has spent almost 30 years in the communications field—a career that has included stints as an investigative journalist, magazine managing editor, corporate communications director, and researcher/writer. She has been with bp Magazine and esperanza Magazine since 2016, serving in roles such as interim editor and, currently, the features editor. She also writes for the bpBUZZ section of bphope.com, where she synthesizes complex information into a format that both inspires and informs.
As an award-winning writer/editor, she received the Beyond Borders Media Award for her 2012 investigative exposé about human trafficking. Her work on this important topic also earned the Media Freedom Award “Honouring Canada’s Heroes” from the Joy Smith Foundation to Stop Human Trafficking.
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