Bella Hadid opens up about her anxiety: ‘Self help and mental illness is not linear’


Bella Hadid posted a series of selfies to her Instagram on Tuesday. But these were unlike the selfies we’ve come to expect. Bella began her multi-photo set with a clip of Willow Smith speaking about not feeling “good enough.” She followed the clip with several shots of herself crying. Next to the photos, Bella wrote a raw, emotional note to her followers about the frailties of mental health. In her comments, she reminded everyone that “help and mental illness/chemical imbalance is not linear,” and that all those emotions felt like a “rollercoaster.” Bella opened up about her own struggles and breakdowns. She said it’s getting harder to share her truth online but she wants to because she’s wants people to know they aren’t alone. And much like Zoë Kravitz’s message, she wants to remind people that “Social media is not real.” This is Bella’s full caption:

< @willowsmith > I Love you and your words . It made me feel a little less alone and that’s why I’d like to post this.

“That feeling of thinking that you’re good enough or being insecure about your art- is natural- but at the same time, I feel like it’s taught.

All humans are different, every single human has something so special and unique to offer. And people forget that everyone is basically feeling the same way: lost, confused, not really sure why they’re here. That anxiety, like, everyone is feeling that- – and trying to cover it up in some way.

We’re gonna come together in our flaws. In our insecurities, in our joy, in our happiness, and accept it all as beautiful and natural. “

This is pretty much my everyday , every night
For a few years now

Social media is not real. For anyone struggling , please remember that. Sometimes all you’ve gotta hear is that you’re not alone. So from me to you, you’re not alone. I love you, I see you, and I hear you. Self help and mental illness/chemical imbalance is not linear and it is almost like a flowing rollercoaster of obstacles… it has its ups and downs , and side to sides. But I want you to know, there is always light at the end of the tunnel , and the rollercoaster always comes to a complete stop at some point. (There is always room for it to start up again, but for me it’s always been nice to know that even if it’s a few days, weeks, or months, it does get better, to some extent, even for a moment. ) it took me a long time to get that in my mind , but I’ve had enough breakdowns and burnouts to know this: if you work hard enough on yourself, spending time alone to understand your traumas , triggers, joys, and routine, you will always be able to understand or learn more about your own pain and how to handle it. Which is all that you can ask of yourself. Anyways. Not sure why but it feels harder and harder to not share my truth on here. Thank you for seeing me and thank you for listening. I love you

[From Instagram via CNN]

My niece and I were just talking about all the ways in which mental health is not linear this past weekend. Not those words, but the idea that Bella is discussing. I’m really impressed with Bella for this. I know there will be those who condemn her for what they claim is a grab for attention. But someone who is in a slump or feels like their rollercoaster is stalled out at the bottom will see this when they most need it. That goes back to the unpredictability of mental health. Some days a post like this will do nothing for me and some days it’ll hit me exactly the way I need it to. Until you need that virtual hand-hold, you have no idea how much it matters. I understand Bella’s decision to post the crying selfies too. This week has been hard. Mean, actually. I’m struggling with people this week. I kind of wanted to broadcast that too, to let people online know they were hurting others. Maybe it made them feel better to attack faceless people, but did they really want to cause that much pain?

The other part of Bella’s message, about social media not being real, I dunno. I think we can say that until we are blue in the face, but I’m not sure it will ever sink in. Social media is usually the best or worst of us. I appreciate Bella reminding us of that. And I know where she’s coming from because I’m sure people “remind” her how perfect her life is based on what they see on her social media. But everyone suffers and this was a risk for Bella to take. Good for her. I hope those who needed to see it did.




Photo credit:Avalon Red, InStar and Instagram

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13 Responses to “Bella Hadid opens up about her anxiety: ‘Self help and mental illness is not linear’”

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    I loved the phrasing of “traumas, triggers, joys and routines.” They are all important, as is giving yourself space (when you can, and are able to) is key.

    When it comes to social media not being real, I feel that on both sides- Bella’s life is not always bikinis and belly chains on an island, and it’s also not all tear-stained faces. I think it’s great she’s showing both, and I need to check myself for initially reacting to her crying selfies with judgment.

    I will have been battling my own mental health issues for 10 years come January. That’s the date of diagnosis (what an anniversary!) and thinking about how long it’s been and how little I’ve come – in my perspective – stings. But I am eternally grateful that I had the support system and the resources and the understanding of my university that I could get a diagnosis, that I have had access to doctors. Not everyone has that privilege. I hope some day everyone has equal access to take care of themselves. The fact that we don’t isn’t just wrong, it’s tragic.

  2. anniefannie says:

    Am I off base in wondering if this is an oblique message to her bother in law too?

  3. Jules says:

    Gonna side eye any celeb and insta influencer who reminds us that social media is not real, while simultaneously earning a living off of having social media followers and constantly posting photoshopped selfies. Try practicing what you’re preaching instead of talking out the side of your mouth.

    • Jaded says:

      It doesn’t matter if you’re a beautiful celeb on social media, mental health issues can attack anyone. ANYONE. I think your comment is uneducated and doesn’t reflect that money and social influence — even a successful career — can’t buy you happiness, it comes from within. One of the richest, most successful men I’ve ever known and worked with committed suicide. He was suffering from low self-esteem and depression that he tried to hide, and was avoiding taking meds. One day he went to a bridge and hung himself. Everyone said “I don’t understand, he was so handsome and rich and successful and had a wife and two gorgeous little kids”. Just goes to show that mental health issues don’t just happen to ordinary people.

  4. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    My granddaughter has been in therapy and counseling and on medication for her mental health. It’s painful and heart wrenching and to be honest, frightening at times to watch. She struggles but is determined to see it through and get better. Every now and then she has a day or two where she’s just “here and now and I am so happy”
    I freely admit I didn’t understand or even sympathize very much with those who struggle with their mental health until it came home to us. I cannot apologize enough for that. My heart breaks for them

    • Cee says:

      The first thing to keep in mind is that we don’t choose to be the way we are. We were born with a “different” brain. We have certain chemical imbalances that make us different and we know we’re different, which feeds into our traumas, experiences and issues. I wish I wasn’t like this because I am myself’s first victim.
      I’m recently on meds again and have realised, for the first time in my life, that the levels of anxiety I live with are not normal and should not be tolerated. I needs meds to keep anxiety away – yoga, excercises, meditation, etc work for as long as it doesn’t anymore. I’ve battled against it alone for so long to be “normal” and realised it’s not worth it anymore and I need help to achieve that “normalness”, my brain needs a crutch.

      Acceptance is the first step towards balance and happiness. Your grandaughter is fighting this head on and she will get there eventually.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        Best of luck to you!
        Thank you for your insight. She recently told me how much of a struggle it is to get out of bed and go to school and be around people, but she keeps reminding herself that it’s part of her process to healing. She has also begun to draw again which she stopped doing, her Mom cried when she told me because she’s been drawing since she could hold a pencil.
        A friend of mine who has known her since she was little thinks she’s an Indigo Child, and that’s also a part of her journey and after reading up on them, I can see that.
        i think she’s a warrior and a rock star and so are YOU and others who face the day when it isn’t easy.

  5. Lizzie Bathory says:

    Good for Bella for feeling like she could open up. It’s not for everyone at every time, but I’m sure it will be a comfort for some people to see that vulnerability. I wish we’d have learned not to assume that rich/famous people can’t struggle with mental health, but I think it’s still very easy to think their lives are perfect. Social media makes that worse by incentivizing us to publish a curated version of our lives. I’ve noticed it myself, even as someone whose work doesn’t depend on a certain image, like Bella’s does.

    Hecate, I’m so sorry you’ve had a tough week. No platitudes here–sometimes things are just crappy.

  6. Lunasf17 says:

    Social media has been great in some ways but so damaging to our society in others. I’ve been staying off of Instagram lately because I’m feeling fragile and I catch myself easily feeling like I’m not measuring up compared to others. I like her message and we need to remember that all of us struggle and social media is very much fake.

  7. LaraW” says:

    Always appreciate your writing re health and mental health here Hecate— I hope your week gets better. November is always hard for me because it always feels like daylight hours decrease exponentially every day.

  8. Isabella says:

    Larawa, I get you. The days are getting darker, literally. I try to make it fun. Now is the time to brighten our houses, buy flowers, light candles, hang up outside lights and count down to the solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year. Celebrate! Have a little party. Spring is on the way.

  9. canichangemyname says:

    *I* needed to see it. Bella Hadid is not really a celeb I’ve kept on my radar, but now she is. I appreciate this so much.
    Recently, I moved more than 1,000 miles to take a job offered to me by a former employer and someone I considered a friend. I uprooted my child, my dog, our whole life and moved only to be let go after two months.
    I suffer from anxiety anyway, and of course I was let go just before my health insurance kicked in, so I had to go without my medication, and it’s a miracle I held it together. I was lucky enough to have amazing friends and family, a fantastic support system, and I received and accepted another job offer within weeks. But I lost a friend and a job, and my mental health was wrecked for a while. Just as she described it, a roller coaster. It wasn’t “good days” and “bad days” – more like, “good 30 minutes” and “bad 30 minutes.”
    I’m glad I saw this, and glad she’s speaking out. The stigma needs to end. Life is tough, and protecting our mental health is the same as protecting our physical health. They really are th same – I found myself getting heart palpitations from my anxiety and hurt, and I knew I had to really be careful and monitor myself and take care of myself. I’m in a better place now, but we all need to be mindful of mental health.

  10. detritus says:

    Secondary or vicarious trauma is also common. Just mentioning that because there have been some serious events going on for Bella and her family recently.

    I hope her health journey continues on an upward trend. The Hadid girls have surprisingly grown on me. I like her being friends with Willow. I hope that continues