Monday, September 29, 2008

Even the Stars Struggle to Stay Aloft

Heather LocklearLast June an item came across my desk, but I was too busy to address it. It concerned TV star, Heather Locklear. According to her publicist, Heather Locklear was checked into an Arizona medical facility to treat her anxiety and depression.

Heather Locklear with depression? The drop dead gorgeous Heather Locklear‽ The same lady that women envy (well, except for her taste in men)‽ What would she have cause to be depressed about?

This last statement was one I heard echoed around the web. Apparently, beautiful people with money and fame weren’t supposed to succumb to the problems we poor extras struggled with. Obviously, the truth is a different matter.

Heather Locklear’s Mugshot
Not much more than a brief statement from her publicist has been revealed, though an anonymous friend spoke with the press when she left the facility, and the summer moved on as we occupied ourselves with other issues. Then today news came out that Heather Locklear had been arrested for driving under the influence. At first I heard she had been driving drunk, but that story quickly changed to her driving while under the influence of prescription medication.

Sleaze peddlers across the web have more details about her arrest with mocking tones and snarky comments, but the relevant bits are that we only have a witness' word that she was driving erratically, that officers claim she seemed disorientated, and that her blood test results have not come in yet. We also know that she was released from jail.

What do we make of this news?

Just look at her face. No, not the glamorous one. There in the mugshot is the face of your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends who struggle with depression and anxiety. It is a haggard face with a hint of desperation and panic around the edges of the eyes. It is perfectly ordinary.

The burden of depression is carried by people of all walks of life. Most of us carry our burden in private away from the eye of the press. We can assume Heather was abusing her medication. We can also assume that she had the wrong dosage. I wonder, too, if she is possibly suffering from side-effects. Her behavior in the past six months from a false suicide alert to her checking into a clinic to this news today has become increasingly erratic. Her meds could be sending her for a loop instead of helping her as designed. We just don't know.

What makes this news relevant to me? In short, I sometimes forget that those who are more successful than I still are human. They have their struggles and weaknesses. It is far too facile for me to believe that the life of a star is a better one than my own. Yes, money, beauty, and fame do provide privilege, but those things cannot help the privileged escape from the human experience. Some of those human experiences are unfortunately found in mood disorders.

I would encourage Ms. Locklear to consider alternatives to psych meds since they don't seem to be helping her, but at the very least she should work closer with her psychiatrist to find a better dosage or prescription.

For us not blessed to live our lives in the firmament above, we should remember that all that is gold does not glitter. Our lives are just as meaningful, and our struggles are just as real. When we allow comparisons to put us down, we are only helping the depression have more power over us.

When I see a star fall, I actually gain hope because I am often blinded by their success. Once they fall, my eyes see them for what they are: no different than I.

For more information:
Heather's 911 "Suicide" Event
Heather enters medical facility
Heather leaves medical facility after 4 weeks
Heather arrested for DUI

Update: Story edited for content.

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