You’re Not Alone: 5 Famous People With Anxiety Disorders
This article will discuss 5 well known individuals, past and present, who have suffered an anxiety disorder. There are a few important points to take from all this. One is that you’re not alone; anxiety disorders are extremely common, affecting people of all demographics. Another is that suffering anxiety does not mean that you can’t still become successful and achieve great things with your life. Some of the people in this list managed to control their anxiety and actually use their symptoms as a strength, helping them reach their goals.
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
Referred to as the greatest inventor of all time, Tesla was one shockingly intelligent, switched on dude (puns intended). Some of the items on his resume include inventing radio and fluorescent lighting, as well as playing a large part in pioneering our modern day AC electrical grid and induction motors. We have him to thank for a few small modern conveniences, including but not limited to the freaking internet. Rumor has it that one afternoon he simultaneously wrote the world’s first encyclopedia, beat a chess champion, and saved a burning orphanage, all in 5 minutes and whilst wearing handcuffs. Swag.
Tesla had a bit of a beef going on with fellow inventor Thomas Edison, regarding whether our first electrical grids should be based on direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) technology. Tesla was into AC, whereas Edison was more of a DC kind of guy. Apparently Edison was a bit of an A-hole about the whole debate, engaging in activities like publicly electrocuting animals to convince people that AC was more dangerous than DC. In the end America (along with most of the world) adopted Tesla’s AC system for several reasons, despite everyone having an opinion on the matter.
Unsurprisingly, Tesla was a strict “perfectionist”. It is said that he suffered numerous phobias from a young age, as well experiencing severe panic attacks that were not well understood at the time. He also portrayed symptoms of OCD, including frequent and obsessive hand washing and counting of objects.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Another smart cookie, Darwin established that all species on earth evolved over time from common ancestors. Darwin’s work had a big impact on the science community, earning him the love of modern-day internet geeks and atheists alike, while gaining him the loathing of conservative religious types. Of course, numerous alternatives to the theory of evolution still exist:
Despite coming up with natural selection and some other clever stuff, Darwin was really struggling. The poor guy couldn’t bear to leave his comfort zone, suffering agoraphobia and social phobia. He had to deal with panic attacks and hypochondria to boot.
These symptoms would have confused doctors of the mid-1800′s era, who would have most likely just prescribed the administration of 12 leeches and a pint of strong liquor. It is not known whether this would have reduced or exacerbated Darwin’s anxiety, however, the practise is no longer recommended.
Jessica Alba (1981 – present)
I elected to use a picture of Jessica Alba as the feature image for this article rather than one of Tesla or Darwin who, let’s face it, were only included in this list as eye-candy. I mean, check out Darwin. The coat says “I mean business”, but the mutton chops say “let’s party”.
Anyway, Alba disproves the modern misconception that mental illness only affects 18th century nerds. Au contraire, beautiful people worry too, including Alba, who has stated numerous times that she suffers from OCD. Some of her symptoms have included the need to unplug every appliance in her house, frequent hand-washing, and insisting upon spraying hotel beds with anti-bacterial spray. She once suffered a panic attack upon discovering that her boyfriend had filled her bedroom with balloons for her birthday.
The successful actress and model has said that she has actually used her obsessive personality as a positive, helping her achieve things in her career. This may be of little consolation to severe sufferers of OCD out there, but the condition is treatable and does not have to stop you from leading a successful life.
Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976)
Hughes was a wildly successful American businessman/engineer/aviator/filmmaker. His passion for films and flight lead him to fortune and fame throughout his life. I’d make a joke about him inventing the airplane, but that just wouldn’t be Wright.
Unfortunately, Hughes suffered quite badly from anxiety, to the point that he became a total recluse in his later years. His OCD made him obsessed with avoiding germs, leading him to spend weeks sitting isolated and naked in hotel rooms, high on codeine and surrounded by tissue boxes (kind of like the life of your average male college student, minus the porn). Other quirks included refusing to touch anything, and a fixation on the size of peas, to the point that he acquired a special fork for the sole purpose of sorting them by size.
As a technological pioneer and one of the world’s wealthiest men, there’s no disputing that he achieved great things in his life, including the most infamous Spruce Goose airplane. Sadly, the combination of anxiety, chronic pain, and alarmingly poor grooming seemed to get the better of old Hughesy in his senior years.
David Beckham (1975 – present)
Soccer extraordinaire David Beckham is another one in the clan of OCD sufferers. Beckham has stated that he can’t stand a lack of order and symmetry. He spends a large amount of time arranging things perfectly, finding it to be “tiring”, yet unable to put an end to it. We hope he doesn’t feel the same way about his marriage!
Wife Victoria said: “He’s got that obsessive compulsive thing where everything has to match. If you open our fridge, it’s all co-ordinated down either side. We’ve got three fridges – food in one, salad in another and drinks in the third. In the drinks one, everything is symmetrical. If there’s three cans, he’ll throw one away because it has to be an even number.”
So there we have it; from scientists to athletes, inventors to actresses, anxiety can affect anyone. The trick is to never give in to it. Don’t let it stop you from doing the things you want. It may not be easy, but every victory we make over anxiety takes us one step closer to defeating it altogether.