Welsh-born actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has spoken frankly about suffering from manic depression in a magazine interview, in a bid to combat the “stigma” surrounding the mental illness.
The 43-year-old wife of fellow Hollywood actor Michael Douglas was admitted to rehabilitation hospital 18 months ago and she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II.
The five days she spent in a mental health clinic followed months of worry while her husband Douglas battled Stage Four throat cancer.
Bipolar disorder is an imbalance in the brain's mood regulating system which can cause episodes of hypomania and manic depression. It can be triggered by factors such as grief and stress and is thought to affect at least 1 percent of the adult population in the UK.
“I'm not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable,” Zeta-Jones told US InStyle magazine.
“I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don't have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
She said the experience had helped her to gain appreciation for life and had strengthened her 12-year marriage to Douglas.
“You find out who you really are and who you are married to. You find things inside yourself you never imagined were there,” she said.
Zeta-Jones began her career as a stage actress, gained fame on ITV’s The Darling Buds of May before moving to Hollywood where she was cast in The Mask of Zorro, Traffic and Entrapment.
She married Douglas, who is 25 years her senior, in 1998 and the couple have two children.
The actress admitted in the interview that at her most unwell she regularly Googled her name and focused on negative comments.
“The smartest thing I did was to stop going online. I’m the sort of person who will just look for the negative. Michael really can’t understand it, but that’s the way I am. And, with my bipolar thing, that’s poison. So I just stopped. Cold turkey. And it’s so liberating.”