Coping With Bipolar Grief When a Celebrity Death Devastates You

It’s okay to mourn someone you didn’t know.

Who is your favorite celebrity? Everyone has one. Even people who claim they never watch TV or movies have famous individuals they admire. Whether it’s a popular musician or a scientific rockstar, every person admires someone.

Celebrity admiration can be a good thing. Watching them in your favorite series can give you joy, make you laugh, or pull at your heartstrings. Even though chances are slim you’ll ever meet your favorite actor or singer, celebrities touch your life every day.

With bipolar disorder, celebrity relationships can become a unbalanced. You may obsess over watching all the movies they appeared in, track every detail of their public life, or imagine you know them like one of your friends.

Most of the time, no one notices your admiration except for you. Occasionally, a situation happens with a celebrity that rocks your world.

The reasonable part of me understands celebrities are more than they appear on screen. As much as I loved Lorelai Gilmore and believed she could be my soul-mate, I understood she was a work of fiction. Lauren Graham might be nothing like the character she portrayed, no matter how stellar of a job she did in the role.

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The celebrity connection feels real, and its impact is never more powerful than when a favorite dies. With Naomi Judd passing a few days ago, I can’t help but think about the impact of a celebrity death. That she had a mental illness and ended her own life makes her loss that much greater. We lost another one of us in battle, so grief is understandable and necessary.

Bipolar grief is intense. One of the toughest losses for me was when Robin Williams died. He was my shining star, the person who publicly fought mental illness and yet lived an amazing life. He inspired me to be all I could, and when he was gone, I felt like one of my brightest lights had gone out. My world was darker, and I felt it would never recover.

As painful as a death may be, you can’t let it defeat you. Losing someone like Naomi Judd, who was vocal about her mental illness struggles, is devastating, but it doesn’t end your war. You must continue to fight.

If it’s true that Ms. Judd chose her own exit, it doesn’t diminish the value of what she did to raise awareness about mental illness. It doesn’t weaken you, even if it feels that way.

The statistics show that nearly 20% of bipolar disorder patients die from the illness. That number stabs my heart, but it focuses on the wrong number. If the 20% is correct, it means that over 80% of patients keep fighting. I’m still fighting. You’re still fighting, and that means a lot.

Soldiers fall in battle. It’s a painful truth, and extremely difficult for their comrades to fight on, but fight on they must. Fight on you must. Naomi Judd was a soldier. She fought for as long as she could. Her contributions to our community should be all we remember.

If you find yourself in the deep darkness of bipolar grief because of the loss of a celebrity, own your feelings. Let yourself cry. Stay in bed for a day or two. Attack the rocky road ice cream with vengeance, but don’t stay down.

When you can, get up again. Focus on the good in the celebrity’s life. Remember how they added value to your life and cherish their gifts. There is still a war for you to fight.

Until next time, keep fighting.

Is it okay to grieve when a celebrity dies? How do you move on? This story will help. | #speakingbipolar #bipolarclub
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