“We’re all in this together.” It’s been a common phrase this year, offering each of us the comfort of knowing that we are in the same boat and facing similar challenges. We’re together, not alone, in our battle to keep our mental health above these turbulent waters.
With this past year in our rearview mirror, we can reflect on what we’ve had to face and persevere through, with courage and resilience; and how we kept going in the face of this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Now more than ever, we look for, and hold onto, inspiring words to lift us up and carry us forward. Whether it’s the Serenity Prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…,” or, as Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo suggests, “Just keep swimming!” we all need assurance that we, too, can stay the course.
And when some of our favorite stars shine a light on their own struggles with bipolar, depression, and anxiety, we see that their challenges aren’t all that different from ours. Whether it’s sharing their coping strategies or the mantras that give them strength, their words are another great reminder that we ARE in this together, and they help motivate us as we look forward to 2021.
Calling the global health crisis the “most anxiety and uncertainty that I’ve ever experienced,” the actor revealed her coping strategies during an E! News interview in late May: “I’ve been exercising every day, which is really important to both my physical but also my mental health,” said the Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum. “I’ve been reading a lot. I love books, and it takes my mind off what’s happening, and it takes me somewhere else.”
Known as People magazine’s sexiest man alive and Forbes’s highest-paid actor, the wrestler turned Hollywood star said in an Instagram Live talk in October 2020 that people are dealing with a “global grief” and a heaviness in the air. “I’ve had some really good days, where I feel anchored and balanced, and I feel optimistic and hopeful, and then the opposite side of that: honestly, days where I’m wobbling because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Johnson, whose family has recovered from the virus. “Hold onto that fundamental quality of faith—not necessarily a religious faith—but just a faith that things are going to be OK.”
The Empire star has been supportive, especially to the Black community, regarding mental health challenges during the pandemic. She has been public about her battle with her own anxiety and depression. “When [the pandemic] happened, my heart went out, and I just knew that people were suffering, and they’re suffering alone in isolation. I’m blessed. I can call my therapist. I can pay for it without thinking about it, but what about those who can’t?” she said to the Associated Press. “It’s OK to not be OK.… Tell someone. Your vulnerability is actually your strength.”
In April 2020, the singer and actor made public her bipolar diagnosis and highlighted the importance of receiving an accurate diagnosis and the power of being well informed. For World Health Day 2020, Gomez hosted an Instagram Live conversation and opened up about her struggles with bipolar depression during the beginning of the pandemic. “In the beginning, I couldn’t deal with it [quarantine] that well.… I kind of went into a bit of a depression.” She got through her struggles by writing and being active, she said. “And then I guess it just forced me to have that time. And again, I’ve been able to spend time with those quality people a lot more than I ever have.”
The Duke of Cambridge took to Twitter to say this at the onset of the pandemic, to encourage others: “We have to take time to support each other and find ways to look after our mental health. By pulling together and taking simple steps each day, we can all be better prepared for the times ahead.” He also revealed, a month later, that he had been secretly volunteering on a crisis text line in the UK to assist people struggling with mental health issues during the lockdowns.
The actor and model, and daughter of musician Phil Collins, posted a personal Instagram message for her 22 million-plus followers in October 2020: “It’s impossible to tell, from the outside, what people are really going through.… and I want to remind all of you that you are never alone, no matter how life feels sometimes.” She continued, “Self-love isn’t selfish, it’s self-care. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first and prioritize healing and happiness. Let’s continue to put kindness back into the world towards ourselves and others—we all need it.”
The supermodel and wife of quarterback Tom Brady has been open about sharing her battles with panic attacks and how meditation and breathwork changed her life. In a November 2020 Instagram post, Bündchen offered this beacon of hope: “Anxiety can feel all-consuming, and sometimes we need a supportive push to help break us out of our vicious cycle of worry.” She said, “In moments like these, family, friends, and specialists can help, and so can breathing and meditation tools. The most important thing is to move away from inertia and look for alternatives. Life is our greatest gift—and every day is worth it.”
In a September 2020 interview with People, the This Is Us actor stressed the importance of mental and emotional support: “It may take a little bit more mental energy, but, hopefully, mental energy is worth a high quality of life for everyone that you love.” And in a more recent Instagram post to his fans, Brown wrote: “Even an astronaut has an entire team devoted to helping and guiding their journey up in space. Reach out to friends and family, encourage and listen to one another, take time to breathe, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
The star of The Mindy Project shared a message with her fans in honor of World Mental Health Day 2020: “It’s OK to not be OK,” the writer and director wrote. “It’s a tough world out there, and we need to be there for each other. If you’re struggling, please reach out to a friend, family member, or anyone! Your mental health matters. You matter.”
The actor said doing good deeds has been crucial to maintaining his mental health during these unsettling times. “It was great for me to be volunteering because it’s important to stay busy,” the Social Network star told Page Six in December 2020. He continued, “I’m only anxious during moments of great calm. When the world is anxious around me, it cancels out mine and I’m immediately at ease. I think it’s the nature of a lot of anxious people—you’re so worried about things that are most likely never going to happen that it increases the amount of anxiety you have because the world doesn’t seem to agree with you.”
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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