There is so much more openness surrounding mental illness than there used to be. More and more celebrities have come forward, discussing issues depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. And while what they’ve done is laudable, is moving, and is undeniably beneficial, it often feels sanitized. They have come through, they are survivors. They tell us their stories with perfectly filtered Instagrams and rhetoric curated within an inch of its life. And that’s not to take away from what they do. They do so much good. But Sinead O’Connor has done something more. She has shone an uncomfortable, harsh, and truthful light on the face of mental illness.
She posted a video from inside a New Jersey motel. To say that it’s not easy viewing would be an understatement. During the 12 minutes video she is crying, desperate, and tortured. With complete openness, she shows mental illness for the terrorizer that it is.
“Mental illness, it’s like drugs, it doesn’t [care] who you are, and equally what’s worse, the stigma doesn’t care who you are,” she says. “There’s absolutely nobody in my life except my doctor, my psychiatrist – the sweetest man on earth, who says I’m his hero – and that’s about the only thing keeping me alive at the moment… and that’s kind of pathetic. I want everyone to know what it’s like, that’s why I’m making this video.”
The video, posted on her Facebook page, spreads awareness for the millions struggling around the world. Those without O’Connor’s status and audience.
“I am one of millions… people who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on earth, we can’t take care of ourselves, you’ve got to take care of us,” she says in the video. “My entire life is revolving around not dying, and that’s not living. And I’m not going to die, but still, this is no way for people to be living.”
And while it may be difficult viewing, it’s so important. It’s done a world of good. People have come out thanking O’Connor for her honesty, for her bravery, her willingness to share. Watching the video reminds us of how many people suffer and how complacent we are with that suffering. That, despite the numbers affected and the severity of their struggles, we just don’t do enough to combat mental illness. That we let it slide. We know it’s there. But it’s easier to look away and pretend. With her video, O’Connor has given an example, a cry for help, that it’s much harder to look away from. It shouldn’t take a celebrity to force us to see. It’s all around us, every day. But it has taken that. And at least O’Connor has done it.
But understandably, the video left many concerned about O’Connor’s health and wellbeing. Thankfully, an anonymous spokesperson has reported that she is receiving help. “I am posting at Sinead’s request, to let everyone who loves her know she is safe, and not suicidal,” they wrote. “She asked for this to be posted knowing you are concerned for her. I hope this comforts those of you were concerned.”