In a long feature story in The New Yorker, Bruce Springsteen reveals he has been in psychotherapy for 30 years, and has at times been depressed to the point of suicidal.
I believe that every public figure who comes out about their own mental-health struggles helps break down the stigma of mental illness, a little bit at a time. Every ordinary person who speaks openly about depression, therapy, and medication also helps pave the way for their family, friends, and colleagues. But when a celebrated artist or athlete chooses to be out about depression - or about anything that carries a stigma - I am especially grateful, because they reach so many people.
Springsteen relates his "self-loathing" to his creative process, and believes this is a nearly universal feature of the creative drive. From a summary in The Guardian:
"My issues weren't as obvious as drugs," Springsteen explained to Remnick. "They were quieter – just as problematic, but quieter. With all artists, because of the undertow of history and self-loathing, there is a tremendous push toward self-obliteration that occurs onstage. . . . You are free of yourself for those hours; all the voices in your head are gone. Just gone. There's no room for them. There's one voice, the voice you're speaking in."New Yorker story is here. It's a hell of an article for Bruce fans, so much more than the snippet from the Guardian implies.
The Boss was driven, he admitted, "by pure fear and self-loathing and self-hatred".
"I'm 30 years in analysis!" Springsteen said. "You think, I don't like anything I'm seeing, I don't like anything I'm doing, but I need to change myself, I need to transform myself.
"I do not know a single artist who does not run on that fuel," he continued. "If you are extremely pleased with yourself, nobody would be fucking doing it! Brando would not have acted. Dylan wouldn't have written Like a Rolling Stone. James Brown wouldn't have gone 'Unh!' He wouldn't have searched that one-beat down that was so hard. That's a motivation, that element of 'I need to remake myself, my town, my audience' – the desire for renewal."
See also: wmtc: in defense of drugs: anti-depressant medication saves and improves lives.