Singer Camila Cabello Opens Up About Mental Health Issues. Should You?
Grammy-nominated “Havana” singer Camila Cabello, who first rose to fame as part of the girl group Fifth Harmony, recently revealed that she suffers from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In a heartfelt personal essay in The Wall Street Journal, the 23-year-old entertainer shares that her carefully curated image on social media doesn’t tell the whole story of her life.
In her inspiring essay, she writes about the moments from her life that her fans haven’t seen, including: “Me crying in the car talking to my mom about how much anxiety and how many symptoms of OCD I was experiencing.” The young star says she has lived with “constant, unwavering, relentless anxiety that made day-to-day life painfully hard.”
FEARS ABOUT OPENING UP
Cabello admits that she was worried that letting people know she struggles with mental health issues would make her seem weak. “The little voice in my head was telling me that if I was honest about my mental health struggle and my internal battles (i.e. being human), people would think there was something wrong with me, or that I wasn’t strong, or that I couldn’t handle things.”
These are sentiments felt by many of the 40 million people who experience anxiety each year, the 2-3% of Americans who suffer from panic attacks (a form of anxiety disorder), and the 1 in 40 American adults affected by OCD. They are also felt by over 50% of Americans who will experience some form of mental health problem in their lifetime.
Far too many people feel stigmatized by mental health issues, so they don’t talk about it. This is changing, however, as more and more people like Cabello open up about psychiatric issues. But should you go public about your own personal struggles? There’s no rule book about sharing your diagnosis, but the good news is, you’re in control of your own story. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about opening up about your experience.
KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY
Before you announce to the world that you’ve been diagnosed with OCD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other psychiatric condition, ask yourself why you want to share your mental health status. Are you hoping to use your experience to help others with similar issues? Are you trying to raise awareness about living with mental health problems? Do you want people in your network to understand you better? Do you need special accommodations at work or at school? Have loved ones been concerned about you? Or is there some other reason? Understanding your motivation for telling others about your mental health issues can help you decide who you will share with and when.
UNDERSTAND THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES
When we see high-profile people like Cabello go public with their diagnoses, it can make you feel empowered to share your own story. In general, the more awareness our society has about the struggles that more than half of us experience, the better. For Cabello, opening up sparked a wave of support from her fans. One of her followers on social media wrote, “…as a person who also struggles with bad anxiety, I’m so grateful that she’s speaking up about it…”
However, you should be cognizant that the stigma attached to mental health problems remains and sadly, it may impact your career opportunities, education, and social circle. Announcing your diagnosis or psychiatric symptoms may elicit support from some but may also subject you to some unkind comments. Make sure you’re prepared to cope with any negativity that may be directed at you.
TIPS FOR OPENING UP
Start with a professional.
If you have already been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or you have a therapist, ask them about how and when to tell others. They may be able to help you anticipate the types of questions or reactions you should expect.
The more you understand about your condition, the better you can respond to people who have questions for you. It can also help you educate others who don’t react positively to your news.
Share that mental health issues are really brain health issues.
Too few people realize that anxiety, OCD, depression, and other conditions aren’t mental illnesses, but rather brain health issues that steal your mind. Brain imaging studies show they are associated with biological changes in the brain. When people see brain scans showing there is a biological basis for these issues, it makes them more understanding and supportive.
Talk to the best listeners.
Make a list of the people you want to tell and start with those you think will be the most supportive.
Join a support group.
There are many organizations where you can discuss your symptoms and experiences with others who are going through similar issues.
Considering speaking to groups.
Sharing your story at churches, in schools, or to other organizations where your experience may provide some benefit to those in the audience.
FINDING POWER IN SHARING
Cabello closes her essay with, “We live in a culture that pursues unattainable perfection. Social media can make us feel like we should be as perfect as everybody else seems to be. Far from being a sign of weakness, owning our struggles and taking the steps to heal is powerful.”
This is so true. Letting others know we aren’t perfect and asking for help are not signs of weakness. They are signs of strength. The key is choosing the right people to share with and doing it at the right time, so it empowers you and widens your support network.
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.