A few days ago, at one of my support groups, an unusual subject came up: Catherine Zeta Jones.
Catherine has always been a favorite of mine. She’s a versatile actress, and she has an earthy, gutsy persona that I’ve always liked. On top of that, she’s been admirably open about being bipolar–even going so far as being honest about her treatment. If mental illness has the face of serial killers, it’s good to know that mental illness can also have the face of Catherine Zeta Jones.
But a wise young woman in our group brought up an interesting point:
“Even now, whenever you see Catherine, she’s beautiful and radiant and dressed to the nines. I just read this article about her being bipolar, and all the article focused on is how beautiful she still is. It’s not Catherine’s fault. She didn’t write the article. But I want to see Catherine when she doesn’t look stunning. I want to see her with her hair undone. And without makeup. And in baggy sweats that she hasn’t gotten out of for days. I want to see her flying off the handle when she’s manic, and disheveled in bed when she’s depressed. I want to she THAT Catherine Zeta Jones. But the public, I’m sure doesn’t want to see that. And that’s the problem.”
Now, I can’t blame Catherine for not wanting to reveal this side of herself to the public. I mean, when I’m in one of my down periods, I don’t want to reveal myself to anyone. But the bigger point is: if people only see us on our good days, how can we get them to understand what we go through on our bad days?
In my own case, I can’t totally hide my bad days, because I occasionally get anxiety attacks in public. They’re embarrassing as hell, especially when they happen in front of friends and family. But because people SEE me shaking, sweating, and stuttering, they at least have a visual of me when I’m “off.” They don’t question me when I say I’m not doing well. Boy, do I appreciate that.
So, maybe it would be good if we found a way to show more of our bad days. Because the reality is, they’re not pretty. Even for someone as beautiful as Catherine Zeta Jones.