Dwayne Johnson, Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding open up about mental health

  • Mind
  • Thursday, 10 Oct 2019

Dwayne Johnson opened up about struggling with depression as a teen. Photo: Reuters

When Dwayne Johnson spoke openly about dealing with depression when he was young, many commended him for breaking the stereotypical notion of masculinity and encouraging men to open up.

The 47-year-old actor recalled in an interview with The Express last year that he experienced bouts of depression in his teens. Johnson revealed that it was spurred by a combination of events.

After being evicted from their apartment at 15, he witnessed his mother’s suicide attempt. A few years later, his dream of becoming a professional American football athlete were over due to injuries.

He was also going through a break-up with his girlfriend. “That was my absolute worst time,” he shared. “I reached a point where I didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere. I was crying constantly.”

Johnson – who later carved a career as a professional wrestler – appeared on the TV show Lorraine this year and urged people, especially men, to talk about the issues affecting them.

“(As men) there’s just a DNA, there’s a wiring in us and a constitution that often times doesn’t let us talk about when we’re scared or vulnerable or things like that. It’s kind of like what’s been deemed as ‘toxic masculinity’.

“But no, you’ve got to talk about it and you’re not alone. I was an only child and I kept that bottled in, deep, deep. It wasn’t good, so I’m happy to share my story.”

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato. Photo: AP

Demi Lovato has also revealed her struggles with mental health started early in life. The singer and actress told psychologist and TV personality Dr Phil on his TV show last year that she first felt suicidal when she was seven.

“It was loneliness and depression. And I believe that a lot of that had to do with unresolved issues with my birth father that I hadn’t dealt with yet,” she said.

Lovato has shared in the past, her dad, who died in 2013, struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. Then at age 12, being bullied in school led Lovato to find comfort in alcohol.

Since then, Lovato – whose first foray into showbiz was at age 10 in the kids’ show Barney & Friends – has sought treatment for depression, bipolar disorder, addiction and an eating disorder.

Over the years, Lovato, now 27, has been forthcoming with her struggles, both on good days and bad. On her 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated,  she revealed she was on drugs while filming an interview promoting sobriety for another 2012 documentary, Stay Strong.

Instead of hearing stories that end with happy-ever-afters only, an opinion piece by The Guardian regards Lovato’s honesty about her mental health as a gift to people going through similar journeys.

The excerpt reads: “Her story is familiar and far more realistic than the highly controlled stories that many public figures have to offer ... They frame illness as something that can be beaten, even though in many cases recovery is a matter of management rather than victory.

“Lovato’s cycle of recurrent illness is a more accurate reflection of the reality for many: sometimes treatment works and sometimes new treatment is needed. Sometimes people are able to adhere to their regimes for managing their illnesses and sometimes they lose track.”

Lovato clocked in six years of sobriety before she relapsed in 2018. But she’s not giving up. “I didn’t lose six years,” she posted on Instagram. “I’ll always have that experience, but now I just get to add to that time with a new journey and time count,” she said about starting over.

“If you’ve relapsed and are afraid to get help again, just know it’s possible to take that step towards recovery.”

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding. Photo AP

Ellie Goulding got her big break in 2010, but while it may seem like a glamorous time in her life, the British singer and songwriter revealed that it was also the start of her struggle with anxiety.

“I was thrilled, of course – sharing my music with the world was a dream I’d been working toward for years – but it was a lot all at once,” she wrote in a 2017 piece for Well+Good.

“I started having panic attacks, and the scariest part was it could be triggered by anything. I used to cover my face with a pillow whenever I had to walk outside from the car to the studio ... Secretly, I was really struggling physically and emotionally.”

Goulding reflected: “I was scared I wasn’t as good of a singer as everyone thought I was. And as the stakes grew, I was afraid of letting everyone, including myself, down.”

The 32-year-old added she found inner confidence through boxing and kickboxing. “It was about seeing and feeling myself get better and stronger. It carried over into other areas of my life, and now I truly feel that exercise – however you like to work out – is good for the soul.”

She also shared in an interview with Flare magazine that therapy helped her cope.


Adele. Photo: Reuters

Adele has also opened up about her struggle with postpartum depression after giving birth to her first child Angelo in 2012. Asked if she wanted a second baby, the Grammy winner revealed to Vanity Fair: “I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son and it frightened me.”

She went on to describe her experience with postpartum – where symptoms typically include a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of appetite, and having difficulty bonding with the newborn, among other things.

“My knowledge of postpartum – or post-natal, as we call it in England – is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life ... It can come in many different forms.”

The 31-year-old said she finally found relief when she started talking about her feelings with friends who were also mum going through similar feelings.

Adele allocates one afternoon each week for some “me” time to help her cope. “A friend of mine said, ‘Really? Don’t you feel bad?’ I said, ‘I do, but not as bad as I’d feel if I didn’t do it’.”

Those in need of someone to talk to can call the Befrienders KL at 03-7956 8145, or 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, or 05-547 7933/7955 in Ipoh or email sam@befrienders.org.my.

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