Last year, on his 42nd birthday, actor Wayne Brady was in his bedroom at home, by himself, sitting in his underwear and having, as he describes it, "a complete breakdown." It's a stark contrast to his persona as the singing, dancing star of Whose Line Is It Anyway. To him, that 42nd birthday was the low point, and it's time for him to open up.
He told Entertainment Tonight:
"It took me a while to get my stuff together to go, 'You know what? If you're not happy, you have to do something about it,'" he says frankly. "Just to admit that you are feeling this way is a huge step. To claim that, to say, 'Why do I feel dark? Why do I feel unhappy? Let me do something about this.'"
One of the hardest parts of depression is trying to explain to family and friends how you feel, when many of them have never felt that level of pain. But, depression is more than just having a "bad day" or feeling a little bummed out. It's a crippling abyss of despair that can prevent functioning in daily life.
In the ET interview, Brady talks about his experiences with Robin Williams, and how the actors suicide prompted him to speak up about his own struggles:
"He made all these people feel great. And at the same time, knowing that he had this sense of … what I make up in my mind, this low sense of self-worth, of belonging, of loneliness, of pain that all the money in the world can't cure, all the accolades and awards, and all the love from people all over the world … all that love could still not stop that man from saying, I am in so much pain.'"
Those in the public eye obviously feel they have more to lose from being public about their mental health. Brady is now one of several high-profile celebrities to encourage openness on this issue.
To help end the stigma surrounding mental illness, head to BringChange2Mind.
If you're suffering from depression yourself and don't know what to do, there are resources for you:
1) The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available to call if you're desperate. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2) Talk with a mental health professional. I know, I know — insurance, money, it's all a big pain in the ass. Fuck it. This is your life we're talking about and you're worth it. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can help.
3) Talk with someone you trust, even if you don't know exactly how to say it. Hell, email me. I've suffered from depression for years, been on half the SSRIs on the market and have a long history of crying alone in my underwear. I won't make everything better, but I'll listen and won't just tell you to "get over it."