Why It's Important for Celebrities to Share Their Health Struggles
Remember in high school when one of the popular people would wear a band t-shirt or do something cool and it was all you heard about for weeks? Even now, I can look back at some of the popular kids and remember the things they did. It kind of lives in my mind like a legend, except when you accidentally fall upon their Facebook profile and see they are not so cool now, but that is another story in itself.
All joking aside, as humans, we look up to other people. In our society, celebrities play a huge part of who we are. Having a chronic and silent disease, I find that celebrities who speak up about their illness are heroes to me. Being judged myself by friends and family members while going through my illness, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be as someone in the spotlight to speak up about their condition. It is a brave move to make it public and share your story.
After I got diagnosed with Lyme disease, everyone I told about my condition told me about this woman Yolanda Hadid that also had the disease on a show they watched called “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” I had heard of the show before, but never watched it. I kept seeing her name come up in the Lyme community and then I started to follow her on social media. I saw clips of the show where she was judged and shut down for what she had and also photos of her in treatment which resembled moments of my own treatment. I found myself clicking “like” on everything she shared and relating to the inspiring quotes and moments on her feed. Time and time again, I wanted to write her a direct message or leave a long comment on one of her photos to let her know how important it is to so many people that she shares her struggle, but then I realized it would get lost in a sea of other similar comments, so I kept those thoughts to myself.
Yolanda is someone who I personally related to in my own treatment, but many other celebrities share their struggles with health issues publicly too. Selena Gomez and her struggle with lupus, Alec Baldwin with Lyme disease, Kesha with her sexual assault, Shannen Doherty with her cancer diagnosis and treatment and countless other men and women with eating disorders and addiction issues. I often wonder if celebrities know of the significant impact they play on other people’s lives? I wonder if they know just how much sharing their story means.
People in the media and in Hollywood help us to relate and we all can see bits and pieces of ourselves in their own lives. When they share with the world that they are going through tough times, just like us, it is empowering and validating to see.
For the celebrities out there with stories to share, please do. Please help to spread awareness about your struggles, your diseases and the things you go through. For the people out there like myself, just an amazing woman in her 30s trying to get better, share your stories too. Please keep putting it out there. When others read or hear about these experiences and can relate them personally, it helps to feel less alone.
I have also found it is helpful to share with someone unfamiliar with your disease that someone in popular culture has it too. As sad as it is, sometimes that offers validation and helps others understand. The more awareness we bring toward what we live with each day, the more others will understand. The more we share, the more we learn. The more we learn that others have struggles too, the more we realize we are all human and we do not have to go through anything alone.
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Thinkstock photo via Digital Vision.