Famous people are increasingly coming out about living with depression, and some of them are doing so to help others, including people with mounting Trump Anxiety Syndrome.
The news was the President’s health. You wouldn’t call Dr. Ronny Jackson’s hour-long live Q&A with the press fake news, although befuddlement reached new levels in the White House Press Room. In a word, Dr. Jackson, who had also been Barack Obama’s examining physician, called Donald Trump’s health “excellent.”
At least the press had some fun with it, despite the fact that the good doctor exuded a credible sincerity no one could vigorously challenge. At least until the late-night comedians came on, and people could laugh, and breathe, again. The print media agumented its response by running pictures of the President walking a pace ahead of Jared Kushner, his hair-piece at his son-in-law’s nose level, with captions such as: “Jared Kushner, 6’3”; Donald Trump, 6’3”.”
Our hands-down favorite was the wag who suggested a Pulitzer Prize for the writer of a headline that appeared in the central-Illinois business newspaper, The News-Gazette. It ran on the same day that Trump, in robustly excellent health if running a little behind his own scheduled comments, promised to issue the first annual Fake News Awards—a promise which may or may not have been satisfied with a cryptic .pdf file issued by the White House Press Office.
The headline in question has to be read with its original line break for full effect:
Doctor: No heart,
For a laugh of a more disconcerting sort, you could Google “Trump-related depression” the day after. The first link is to story that declares, “Donald Trump’s hair loss drug linked to depression and erectile dysfunction.” This on the day the porn star opined on the Chief Executive’s questionable performance in the sack.
Checking back in on Trump Anxiety Symdrome; We'd call it an update if it were up
In a post four months ago, we asked if there were professional opinions about the anecdotally escalating reports of citizen Trump Slump—psychologically, we mean. A check-up on that malady did not seem out of the question the day after the doctor’s opinion, to wit: How’s the citizenry doing?
Just as the flames were dying down on Michael Wolff’s explosive new book, Fire and Fury, a tell-all of life in the current West Wing, the frequently reported response of readers who had made it to the end was, “Oh my god, I had already forgotten and about that … and that … and that! Who can keep up?”
Not one to shrink from criticism, 45 cold-cocked a world that had thought itself past shock and outrage by calling the continent of Africa, collectively, “shithole countries.” The line was reported far in advance of the weekend, and it still has legs a week later.
It appears that only an entirely likely complete government shut-down on Friday could knock it out of the news A-block. If nail-biting becomes an Olympic event, Americans—and people elsewhere who understand the international impacts the country's affairs wield—have a lock on it.
Anything else on Google today?
Glad you asked. Following the lead of its Commander-in-Chief, with his allegiance to anecdotal evidence of the “I hear that a lot of people are saying” variety, a lot of people would appear to be saying that No, they’re not feeling better.
What stand out are the articles that expressly update their previous reports about the psychological fallout of the 45th Presidency—how to cope better, how to keep coping. No one we read suggested taking up golf. On the other hand, there now are hotlines.
To state that the preponderance of Trump-anxiety stories appear in media with a left-ish slant is perhaps merely to note the obvious. From the September 16, 2017 Salon headline—“Anxious in the Trump era? You’re not alone”—on through the remainder of the article there was, arguably anxiety-producing in its own way, the usual. There were the expected anecdotal examples followed by the predictable antidotes: stay out of the news as much as possible, cardio cardio cardio, and, when all else fails, professional psychological help.
If anything has changed, it’s that the stakes have been demonstrably raised, and the anxiety has expanded to all actions by a GOP working feverishly behind the smoke screen of the executive outrages. Before Christmas the passage of a historically unpopular tax bill and a vote by the FCC to end net neutrality. Post-holiday, 38 minutes of terror in Hawaii and beyond that a nuclear missile was headed its way—which the informed President did not allow to disturb his golf game. As we write a not at all unimaginable full government shutdown. Tomorrow.
January 20 marks the end of the Administration’s first year, and one of the hottest topics in Washington is how to dishonor it: politician no-shows, legislator walk-outs, another Women’s March. You can’t even say that tensions could not be higher.
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You’re not alone—in fact, you’re in good company
That’s not, we think, the stupidest thought the politically anxious could entertain. Reading—as one can—that certain sufferers are coping by “doodling more,” there is the altogether less infuriating, real uplift that comes from reading about other celebrities who are doing more. More good.
As we dipped back into this topic, the first things Google greeted us with were the examples of prominent Americans not only opening up about their depressions—and what helped—by putting time, energy, and resources into helping others with anxiety and depression. A kind of positive #MeToo.
As vocal (in all ways) as they come, Lady Gaga confides, “I still suffer with it every single day.” Without leaving the realm of the pop stars, there’s The Boss, Bruce Springfield, who acknowledges being “crushed” and “out” for years at a time. His candor about those struggles were not the only reason his 2016 autobiography Born to Run (just no longer from candor about depression and his ways of coping with it) was a hit.
Few celebrity’s revelations about depression were as initially startling as those of Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. Despite having won more Olympic medals than any other human to date, Phelps has not been as easy to like as some of his predecessors and not always the kind of newsmaker product promoters dream of. Added to that, there was compelling evidence that he was not skipping the cardio.
Phelps’ candor about living with depression is not exactly new. His statements on the matter began last autumn. But he’s made an appearance in Chicago this week (January 16) that put him back in the news.
Appearing at a Kennedy Forum breakfast about mental health, the 32-year-old acknowledged that his “bottom” was his second DUI arrest in 2014. Since then he has become a champion of mental health, and full candor about it.
Speaking onstage with political analyst David Axelrod, Phelps said, “I got to a point in my life where I was ready to seek help. People look at celebrities like they’re something special, but I’ve had the same struggles as everybody else.”
As the Chicago Tribune reported, Phelps added that, since going public with his struggles with depression, “It’s been some of the most enjoyable living I’ve ever had.” The messages of support from families dealing with mental health issues had given him “feelings and emotions ... that are a light-year better than winning a gold medal, because you have a chance to save a life, and that’s way more powerful.”
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