Struggling with a mental illness can make life seem bleak. It can be inspirational to learn that many of the world’s most famous people have had or currently have a mental illness. This includes writers, entertainers, artists and political leaders.
Isaac Newton - He was the most famous mathematician of the 17th Century, and was responsible for many scientific discoveries we take for granted today. Such as the “corrected” Gregorian calendar date. Newton’s greatest mathematical discovery was the gravitational relationship between the earth and the moon, and of centrifugal force. Newton was well educated, had access to the best knowledge of his day, and was wealthy in later life. In 1705 Newton was the first Scientist to be knighted by Queen Anne for his great scientific contributions. He suffered from several “nervous breakdowns” in his life and was known for great fits of rage towards anyone who disagreed with him. Some have have said that he had Bipolar Disorder, which was unknown at the time.
Linda Hamilton – Best known for her role in “Terminator”, Linda Hamilton was diagnosed with bipolar late in life, and refers as the years from ages 20 to 40 as “her lost years”. Her rages and mood swings destroyed her marriages and, despite her considerable professional success, she describes her life before treatment as “bleak”. Linda Hamilton’s Interview with Larry King
Joe Nash- As a Nobel Prize Winner in mathematics, he has faced a lifelong battle with schizophrenia. He was known as the “Phantom of Fine Hall” at Princeton where his reclusive, ghost like figure could be seen roaming around, leaving messages of his mathematical genus on the boards of empty classrooms. His struggle was well documented in the book “A Beautiful Mind,” by Sylvia Nasar which was later made into a movie by the same name.
Ashley Judd – She once spent 47 days in a treatment facility for depression and other emotional problems. She says
“It’s so simple really: I was unhappy and now I’m happy,” she says. “Now, even when I’m having a rough day, it’s better than my best day before treatment.”
Brooke Shields – She was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. She first had difficulty bonding with her baby and later thought of hurting it and even killing herself. She was able to gain a significant improvement in her mood through medication and the help of a skilled nurse-helper who recognized her problem and encouraged her to get help.
Next week I will highlight more famous people who live or lived with a mental illness.