Bebe Rexha has bipolar disorder ― but her diagnosis isn’t a label.
The singer recently talked about living with the mental health condition, which can cause periods of mania, intense depression, sleep and appetite changes, and more, in a raw and poignant interview with Self magazine.
“At the end of the day, it’s nobody’s business. But, for me, I like to be very transparent with my fans … and I won’t allow it to label me. It’s something that I’m going through, but it’s not me,” she told the publication.
Rexha also candidly discussed taking medication and going to therapy, which helps her to manage her symptoms.
“It doesn’t take away the sadness or anxiety totally, but I feel so much better,” she said. “It’s helped me live a more balanced life, less ups and downs. When my medication started kicking in, I couldn’t believe how I felt. I couldn’t believe that’s how good people could feel.”
Rexha’s comments not only de-stigmatize bipolar disorder, they also stress the fact that a mental health condition doesn’t define a person and that it’s OK to get help.
Chances are you wouldn’t hesitate to take a prescription for high blood pressure or get treatment for cancer; you also likely use your illness as a label when talking about who you are as a person. It’s just one part of your life. The consideration should be extended to mental health issues.
“This message suggests that, for people who have bipolar disorder or other serious mental illness, mental illness should not be a limitation,” Dr. Jessica Gold, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St Louis, told HuffPost.
Gold added that Rexha’s comments about taking medication also help normalize the aspects of living with a mental health disorder.
“While we are much more comfortable in our society talking about mental health and diagnoses ― which is great, and due in large part to celebrities like Bebe ― we are not as comfortable discussing medication and treatment,” she said, adding that many people who may benefit from medication often avoid it because of the stigma.
“That is not the right mindset, and it is a dangerous one,” Gold said. “It often means someone will delay treatment until they are really sick, and medication can take a long time to take effect. Early intervention and prevention is so important in mental health, just like any other illness.”
Most people with mental health conditions can live fulfilling, creative and productive lives with proper treatment. (That, of course, requires resources like money and can be a burden. Here’s a guide on how to find affordable options.) There’s no need to categorize anyone by the illness they’re experiencing.
Rexha underscores this point. She told Self that no one should feel bothered or pity her for her diagnosis.
“There’s nothing to feel bad for. I’m fine, I’m healthy, I’m working on myself,” she said. “I’m bettering myself as a human.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.