Catherine Zeta-Jones talks about her bipolar disorder to People Mag

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Catherine Zeta-Jones and her bipolar disorder have taken the cover of this week’s People Magazine. I would imagine that this will likely be one of People’s best-selling issues, not just because big stars “in crisis” always sell, but because Catherine seems to be giving her story exclusively to People, and this cover story includes Catherine’s first interview since the announcement about her disorder. Here’s an excerpt:

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When Catherine Zeta-Jones received a recent diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, a mental illness marked by prolonged periods of depression alternating with episodes of mild mania, she didn’t hesitate to step forward with the news.

“This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them,” the actress, 41, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement in this week’s cover story. “If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”

In early April, the Oscar-winning wife of actor Michael Douglas, 66, and mom to son Dylan, 10, and daughter Carys, 8, checked in to Silver Hill Hospital, a mental-health facility in New Canaan, Conn.

Shaken by Douglas’s battle with throat cancer, Zeta-Jones was privately struggling, a friend says. As Douglas recovered, Zeta-Jones didn’t – and with her new movie, the romantic comedy Playing the Field, slated to start shooting in Louisiana, the actress realized she needed help in the face of mounting depression.

“The simple things would just seem overwhelming, like going out to dinner,” says the close friend. “There was just a little piece of her chipped away. It was hard to watch because I knew how hard she was trying.”

[From People]

I agree with everything being said here – there are millions of people with bipolar disorders, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and people should actively seek treatment. What does interest me, on a celebrity-gossip level, is the how, why and “why now?” of this. Catherine checked herself into a mental health facility a few weeks ago and stayed for less than a week, I believe. I also believe that Catherine wouldn’t have come out and aired her (admittedly private) business if it not for an exclusive scoop that the National Enquirer got last week – only the Enquirer’s story was about Catherine’s problems with drugs and alcohol, which admittedly could have been bipolar-related. While I do think that whatever she’s going through is private, and that she’s taking steps to handle it and be a responsible adult about the situation, I also think that there’s more to the story than what Catherine is handing to People Magazine.

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Covers courtesy of CoverAwards, People. Additional pics by WENN.

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38 Responses to “Catherine Zeta-Jones talks about her bipolar disorder to People Mag”

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  1. amy says:

    I applaud her for being open about her struggle, and I think that she’s a beautiful woman and suspect that she’s got a strong marriage. The unfortunate thing about this is that as soon as I see “41″ in print as her age I just start rolling my eyes and flip the page of whatever it is I’m reading. “41″ my *ss.

  2. Marjalane says:

    Call me cynical, but I am very suspicious that this was done as an attention getting thing. CZJ may very well be bi-polar, but she’s been lying about her life for years and this “coming out to People” just screams insincerity. It seems that people who live with this awful disease spend years in therapy and working with a variety of Dr’s to get their meds right. 5 days in rehab don’t seem like much of an effort.

  3. KittyKate says:

    i think it was handled pretty well.
    The stress of Michael being sick would be a lot for someone to take.

    My guess is she was admitted to the hospital so she could go immediately on a higher dose of medication than they allow when you’re not being supervised.
    Once they sorted that sh*t out, she was able to go home, properly medicated.

    But I say good for her.

  4. OtherChris says:

    Well, good luck to them.

  5. Miss Marie says:

    I think they are having money troubles like all the celebs with lots of real estate, plus MD and CZJ aren’t acting that much. I am sure the story has a big price tag attached to it.

  6. Meaux says:

    She’s is also delusional if she thinks we believe she is 41. Please, it’s pathetic.

  7. Tuatara says:

    Not as delusional as Kerry Katona who thinks CZJ is going to call her for “a chat”. For those in the US who don’t know Kerry Katona – count your lucky stars. She’s awful.

  8. Carrie says:

    I’ve been through this and was also institutionalized after a suicide attempt for what turned out to be 5 days (when I went in–against my will–the stay was open-ended). Once there, I embraced the process and 5 days turned out to be enough time for me to stabilize, come up with some coping strategies, and get an outpatient treatment plan in place. I don’t think it’s fair to comment on the length of her stay. It’s not like she said she was cured in 5 days. She needed 24 hour care for 5 days and now presumably continues her treatment.

  9. badrockandroll says:

    I agree with KittyKate. I also think that she’s been probably struggling with this (whether diagnosed or not) for years – think back to her overly euphoric acceptance speeches etc. I also wonder about her real age – her hands and feet do not match her face and body, but if she was significantly older than she claims, wouldn’t there be lineups of people who went to school with her saying that? I’ve just heard that blind White House item twice, and each story named a different President, which makes me doubt it, but like I said, her hands and feet … but good luck to her and to her family.

  10. mln76 says:

    I really think she was bi-polar and having episodes before Michael’s diagnosis…there were too many little items here and there about how crazy she was on Broadway and the cast basically told the Post how happy they were that she was gone. BUT I am glad she’s getting treatment and speaking out on her illness. I am sure it helps people with this diagnosis to see such a public figure be open about this.

  11. TXCinderella says:

    My God that woman is so beautiful! She is so brave coming out and talking about her mental illness despite her celebrity. I have a brother that is a manic depressive and it affects the entire family. So glad to see her bringing this to the forefront. Fortunately, she has the money to get the best treatment possible. Many people are not that lucky and there are not a whole lot of options out there for people who have no money and no health insurance.

  12. EdithP says:

    I have always thought she looked older than her age, but I think her age is pretty well documented, isn’t it? But smoking can age a person, and really, mental illness can, too. If this has gone undiagnosed for a while (and I would have to believe it has), then she could have been suffering for a while.

    I have my own battles with depression, it is a huge pain in the ass. Some days I just want to lie in bed all day, but I get up and go to work anyway (most of the time). I’d hate for my struggles to be so public.

  13. amy says:

    are you kidding? whether or not she’s 41 i would love to look like that at 41! i don’t think she looks significantly older than that.

  14. samihami says:

    I don’t know why people still post that they think she is older than her actual age of 41. It’s been very well documented-she was a child star back in Wales and there is plenty of documentation of her from that time.

    Some people just have more mature features/look older than their actual age. In her case, I think she looks very pretty, so I don’t get the dumb age comments at all.

  15. lucy2 says:

    I think the announcement and this article are an attempt to preempt any tabloid speculation and control the story. Can’t say I blame her.
    Good luck to her, hope she’s doing well.

  16. Roma says:

    Often people with mental disorders self medicate with drugs and alcohol. So I believe both the NE and her own admission.

  17. spinner says:

    It’s like magic!! All of a sudden she’s relevant again!!

  18. The_Porscha says:

    Of course there’s more to the story than she’s telling People. There’s always more to the real story than any of them will ever hand to People. People is for the sanitized, easily digestible version of things, and purposefully.

  19. Betsy says:

    I think we get about 1/10 of the truth in any story in People. It is just a vehicle for stars and their publicists to spin stories in their favor. So yea, there is probably more to this story and it is not just CZJ doing a PSA for mental illness.

  20. Enn says:

    @Carrie – thank you for sharing that.

    I was diagnosed BP six years ago, and it’s hard. Even with medication I go through “flares” and I used to self-medicate with booze and pills. When I lived with my ex he came home from a night shift and found me passed out with a smoldering cig in the ashtray, and had to slap me awake. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still have big mood swings (worse when I’m hormonal) and I’ve also become really withdrawn socially because I lean more towards depression and honestly, doing more than leaving the house for work can be draining. I also tend to get self-conscious.

    I think that 5 days is not unreasonable, especially if she went in, got a med change, and did some intensive talk therapy to “get it out” and sort of purge emotionally. Not everyone with an emotional disorder needs a 30-day stay.

    Anyway, I really commend her for speaking frankly, whether it was for damage control or not.

  21. Dana M says:

    She is a smoker which may have aged her, making her look “more mature”. Smoking to calm her nerves makes sense now that we know she’s been battling with bipolar.

  22. happymom says:

    She’s gorgeous, and I think it’s great that she’s speaking out on this issue.
    However, I swear when she came on the scene here in the U.S. she was a few years older than I, and I’m now 44-so do the math.

  23. Johnny Depp's Girl says:

    Good for her. I hope she is stable and ready to move on. I like her! Wish her the best.

  24. anti says:

    glad she’s doing this.
    mental stigma can be bad.

  25. KattyKat says:

    @spinner – I think marrying that creepy husband made her irrelevant before her time. It made her unsexy no matter how beautiful she is or how old she is or isn’t, it was suddenly very hard to market her to her (alleged) age cohort and younger. I’m around her lower age and at 30 she suddenly seemed untinteresting to me. I don’t care what a woman married to that bag of bones is wearing. Sorry but ICK!

    I’m not bipolar but I have something similar and I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 34. I was always “unstable” and “high strung” but perfectly normal in public. It wasn’t until the $ hit the fan like it did in her case that I was diagnosed. Mine was work related, I even got disability because I could prove it. I wasn’t put away because I left the job and stayed home with my mom watching me until the meds kicked in. Now I know better and get the pills tweaked if I feel overwhelmed and then I get them tweaked again if I get too zombie-like.

    I’ve never seen Catherine’s feet but I think that is what gives me away (as far as not being 34 anymore) I’m more fascinated by her nose. It used to look like that people cover photo but then it got kind of bulbous around her second pregnancy (see photo with Michael) is that from booze? She should have it done to look like it used to. It ruins her formerly almost perfect face.

  26. Jeri says:

    She was very young and in her prime when she did that movie with Sean Connery. Remember her in the catsuit stretching and bending to avoid all the lasers. That was Sexy Hot! It also fits with her current age, I think Michael saw that too and had to have her!

  27. Anti-icon says:

    Mental illness sufferers face enormous stigma — at the workplace with insurance; in continuing to study and advance in career; in romantic and familial relationships….it’s a really hard medical issue to manage.

    So I applaud CZJ for helping to remove that stigma.

    I hope she gets good treatment, because it is an illness whose treatment is not one size fits all. Often, finding the right drug combo is a YEARS-LONG effort.

  28. Uzi says:

    @Carrie, Enn and others who’ve suffered with mental disorders…Thank you for sharing your stories, and best wishes for coping with your illnesses.

    As for Catherine, good for her for trying to educate the public about bi-polar disorder. Unfortunately there is still too much stigma and ignorance attached to mental illness, as evidenced by how people vilified bi-polar celebs Britney Spears and Mel Gibson when they “came apart.” I wish all of them, and their families, well.

  29. Newbie says:

    Bipolar disorder is a real challenge. I feel for her. If she’s trying to beat the tabloids at their own game, so be it. You would think that if she were going for glamourous new relevance, she’d pick something else to reveal. If she’s looking for public sympathy, she certainly has mine. That disease can be so debilitating.

  30. suggabugga says:

    41?????? hahahahahah

  31. CG says:

    They airbrushed the hell out of her face on that cover. She practically looks like Shania!

  32. Camille says:

    Good on her for talking about it.
    Maybe now Britney Spears will open up about what is actually wrong with her? Yeah, doubt it.
    I think it takes guts for a celeb to come out and talk about their struggles, it makes things less taboo and opens up discussions.

    All the best CZJ. :)

  33. Rosanna says:

    I love the way she handles it!!!

  34. dana says:

    Dance, Diandra, dance. That crazy *itch had it coming.

  35. ctkat1 says:

    Agree with what you said about CZJ.

    On another note, that picture of Mariska Hargitay and her new daughter is adorable.

  36. Mairead says:

    Cynical marketing exercise or not, fair fucks to her for coming out and showing that depression and mental illness is a demon many people struggle with, both inside and outside showbusiness. I agree she’s probably been tipping along with various forms of depression for years and the stress of the past couple of years caught up with her.

    I’d like to especially support KattyKit’s comment as something similar happened to me. I had chronic depression for years, but an incredibly stressful work situation tipped me into a breakdown. Stress is a powerful switch.

    As for CZJ’s age. I had thought she’d shaved a year or two off, but then I had a look on ancestry.co.uk. The registers for Swansea in the 60s are on it and she really was born before December 1969. She is registered as Catherine Zeta Jones and the mother’s maiden name is Fair. Pretty much the only Catherine Jones with a mother of that name registered since the 19th century.

    I can post the proof if I wanted, but I don’t really. The way I see it, the dipshits who insist on believing a never-confirmed blind item as their “proof” can friggin’ well pay to prove me wrong.

  37. Trudi says:

    I can’t understand why people think she is older than 41 she looks good for her age. Take a walk down the street or look in the mirror people her age look older than her. She looks gorgeous. Would like to have half of her sex appeal and looks

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