One of the most important things to hear when we suffer from something painful like social anxiety is “me too.” Just knowing that someone else can relate to our feelings and our experience is immensely reassuring. So it’s sometimes helpful to point to others in the public eye who have experienced social anxiety as well. Our original list of celebrities suffering from social anxiety (including Donny Osmond and Jennifer Lawrence among others) was one of our most popular. So here’s a second short list of famous people who have known how tough social anxiety can really be, with some appearing to handle it more effectively than others:
Brian Wilson: the well-known scribe for the Beach Boys was famously depressed and highly anxious in the spotlight and in meeting others. He wrote a string of hit songs through the sixties and became the iconic image of the Beach Boys, one of the few American bands to rival the Beatles. Overcome by his misery in the midst of his success (and possibly suffering from some additional problems), he withdrew from the public eye into a world of psychotropic drugs and alcohol. But his career was reborn in the 90s when he was able to regain control of his life. A true tale of redemption.
Marilyn Monroe: The famous blond actress and model suffered from anxiety and depression over her long career. She was known to be reserved and insecure in private while she strived to be one of the best in her profession. In that quest, she also longed for a certain freedom from publicity that, of course, the media and public were not quick to provide. She turned to medication and alcohol to deal with her anxiety and died from an alleged overdose in 1962. Another example of the intense pressure on celebrities to live their private lives in the public eye.
Ricky Williams: the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner and 5th selection in the NFL draft, Ricky Williams was known during his career as an eccentric person, mostly because nobody had identified that he suffered from social anxiety. He was often camera shy and occasionally gave interviews in his helmet with its tinted visor. But after seeing a therapist and getting clarity on what he was suffering from, he claims he started to make his recovery; the diagnosis of social anxiety meant to him that he wasn’t crazy. With some cognitive behavioral therapy and medication he was able to regain control of his life again. William’s story is a reminder of the importance of giving a name to the things that cause us pain.
Johnny Depp: One of the most famous and talented actors in movies today is also someone who suffers from social anxiety. Johnny Depp has been able to manage his anxiety by employing a suite of relaxation techniques and a group of therapists who help him deal with his anxiety. Often times media outlets or the public refer to his introversion as a form of rudeness, but you can imagine how difficult it must be to excel at your craft when your profession is at odds with your emotional life. Depp is a testament to the power of the human will and to good therapy.
Daniel Tosh: Comedian and TV host Daniel Tosh gets asked a lot about how his social anxiety affects his acting. His answer is always the same: he creates a character in his mind that he adopts for his audience. His alter ego is whatever he chooses it to be, in his case loud, funny, and confident. Friends describe him as completely the opposite at home. For Tosh, creating a false persona in certain social situations may be what we sometimes call a safety behavior, which helps us to get by in the short term.
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