Mental illness and working in theatre

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Harpz2006
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Mental illness and working in theatre #1
Posted: 6/5/19 at 11:17am

I read this really interesting and relevant discussion the other day (it was published in November, but I hadnt seen it) about working in theatre in different capacities while living with mental illness. The discussion, which is all women, includes a playwright, actors, and people in other roles.

https://www.theintervalny.com/interviews/2018/10/mental-health-and-working-in-theatre-a-roundtable-discussion/

Alexandra Socha is one of the actors featured in the discussion, and she shares that she lost a major job several years ago due to severe struggles with panic disorder, which included episodes of crying and extreme anxiety backstage while waiting to go on. While reading it I realized the job must have been Fun Home and it reminded me of the intense curiosity on this board after she was replaced. It kind of made me reflect on, as much as we all want the scoop on everything, actors are just people like all of us who struggle with mental illness, health issues, etc., and I feel like we should be mindful of that before launching into threads speculating about why actors leave productions (some of the posts about Socha leaving Fun Home, and the infamous “Betsy Wolfe departs CAROUSEL” spring to mind).

I guess the discussion left me curious- if an actor on Broadway is struggling with mental health, are they able to take a health leave of absence if necessary? Is there support and resources available for actors who play extremely emotionally taxing roles that may take their minds to dark and disturbing places for an extended period of time on a daily basis (Dear Evan Hansen, next to normal, Fun Home, too, as a matter of fact)? If it seemed to be affecting the actor too much, is it more likely that management would sit down with the actor and say, maybe this production isnt for you?

Sorry for the hodgepodge of thoughts! Just wanted to open up a discussion about some of this!

Updated On: 6/5/19 at 11:17 AM
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Mental illness and working in theatre #2
Posted: 6/5/19 at 12:28pm

I don't have all the answers, but I do know that the production staff on emotionally taxing shows, such as DEH, do have resources in place to support actors. My understanding is also that DEH in particular provides resource information and training of some kind because there has been patterns of fans of the show relating so strongly to the material that they end up telling the actors about their own struggles; this way the team can gracefully suggest resources without having to take on all the emotional outpourings on themselves.

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Mental illness and working in theatre #3
Posted: 6/5/19 at 2:08pm
Patrick Page (depression) and Patti Murin (anxiety) are two well known actors who deal with mental illness. There have been several articles snd interviews with Page where he talks about it and Murin has been open on social media. They are only two I can think of but I’m sure there are more. If you Google both you will find lots of info.
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Mental illness and working in theatre #4
Posted: 6/6/19 at 2:27am

Patty3 said: "Patrick Page (depression) and Patti Murin (anxiety) are two well known actors who deal with mental illness. There have been several articles snd interviews with Page where he talks about it and Murin has been open on social media. They are only two I can think of but I’m sure there are more. If you Google both you will find lots of info. "

Is depression considered a mental illness?

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GavestonPS
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Mental illness and working in theatre #5
Posted: 6/6/19 at 2:46am

There are disputes re categories of mental illness, but I think in general any mental condition that prevents you from functioning in a healthy and self-satisfying way is considered a "disorder", at least, if not an actual "illness".

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Here I Am
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Mental illness and working in theatre #6
Posted: 6/6/19 at 2:53am
Patti Murin has taken several personal days during ‘Frozen’ to deal with her mental health. I applaud her for being brave enough to talk about it so publicly and hope her words help other people struggling know that even Disney princesses and Broadway stars can suffer from a very human disease.

As for an “extended leave of absence due to mental health issues”, I have no idea how that works.
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Mental illness and working in theatre #7
Posted: 6/6/19 at 3:02am

MadAboutTheBoy said: "Patty3 said: "Patrick Page (depression) and Patti Murin (anxiety) are two well known actors who deal with mental illness. There have been several articles snd interviews with Page where he talks about it and Murin has been open on social media. They are only two I can think of but I’m sure there are more. If you Google both you will find lots of info. "

Is depression considered a mental illness?
"

Speaking as someone who has depression, yes. It is.

5.25.16 My life was changed by Bright Star 4.12.17 My life was saved by Anastasia
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Mental illness and working in theatre #8
Posted: 6/6/19 at 3:13am

Am I the only one who saw the title of this thread (Mental illness and working in theatre) and thought, "Yes, they should be required"?

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Mental illness and working in theatre #9
Posted: 6/6/19 at 10:49am

Though it’s not mental illness, Kristin Chenoweth suffers from debilitating migraine headaches. Her performance track during her Broadway runs is pretty impeccable so I’m always amazed whenever I watch her in a show knowing this about her. How many times a week is she up on that stage hunkering thru discomfort. I’m also one to still work regardless how ill I’m feeling. The show must go on. I’ve never cancelled an appointment, meeting or job even if I couldn’t stand for more than 2 minutes.

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Mental illness and working in theatre #10
Posted: 6/6/19 at 10:53am

MadAboutTheBoy said: "Patty3 said: "Patrick Page (depression) and Patti Murin (anxiety) are two well known actors who deal with mental illness. There have been several articles snd interviews with Page where he talks about it and Murin has been open on social media. They are only two I can think of but I’m sure there are more. If you Google both you will find lots of info. "

Is depression considered a mental illness?
"

Are you seriously asking that?  Of COURSE it is.  Try Google. 

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EthelMae
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Mental illness and working in theatre #11
Posted: 6/6/19 at 11:46am

Still asking if depression is a mental illness?- wow- that could be one reason mental health gets the short end of the stick with health insurance companies.

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Mental illness and working in theatre #12
Posted: 9/9/19 at 8:36pm

I am a former musical theater performer who is currently a PhD candidate in a Clinical Psychology program. I have been teaching voice lessons for almost 15 years in NYC and a very high percentage of my students have mental health issues in addition to being professional performers. Audition anxiety (and performance anxiety) are big issues in the community, and there is a surprisingly large stigma attached to them. I just defended my dissertation which focused on testing a treatment I adapted for musical theater performers suffering from audition anxiety. I hope to bring more awareness to the issue as well as to help people find appropriate treatment. I even created a website, AuditionAnxiety.com, that I hope will help people. The interesting part of my study (besides the fact that that treatment was helpful), was that many of the people who enrolled were highly skilled, talented and successful.

inmyownlittlecorner
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Mental illness and working in theatre #13
Posted: 9/10/19 at 9:44am

As soon as I saw the title, my heart stopped because of the last time we talked about mental health here, ha.

I can’t think of a show that I’ve been in where there hasn’t been someone who suffers from some mental health issue. And that’s excluding myself! There’s just so much of a stigma around being mentally ill, especially with anxiety disorders, that people don’t talk about it.

I suffer from some pretty debilitating social anxiety except for when I’m onstage. There, while I have anxiety, something there stops me from a panic attack (my therapist and I haven’t figured out what it is yet).

But so many people don’t understand mental illness think you can’t be onstage and have anxiety because, hey, they conflict! I think that’s where the stigma comes from, is thinking that you can’t complete the job with these mental health struggles.

Another actor that I can think of that’s been open about their struggles with mental health is Eva Noblezada. Her Twitter is full of discussion about creating a mentally healthy environment. She’s been pretty open about her struggles with her body, and bouts of depression 

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Mental illness and working in theatre #14
Posted: 9/10/19 at 9:48am

GavestonPS said: "Am I the only one who saw the title of this thread (Mental illness and working in theatre) and thought, "Yes, they should be required"?"

Ha!

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Mental illness and working in theatre #15
Posted: 9/10/19 at 10:26am

Depression and anxiety in and of themselves are not mental illnesses because every human being will experience them in various situations and not necessarily become debilitated by them.  It's when these emotional states become outside the normal range of experiences that they can progress to mental health issues or even mental illness.  It's not a 'you have it or you don't' thing', which is why proper treatment is important if someone is progressing along that continuum.  People who work in theater are just like anyone else where this is concerned and I would think that, just like medical issues/benefits, there would be both coverage and consideration for this, for people onstage and backstage as well.

inmyownlittlecorner
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Mental illness and working in theatre #16
Posted: 9/10/19 at 10:36am

AADA81 said: "Depression and anxiety in and of themselves are not mental illnesses because every human being will experience them in various situations and not necessarily become debilitated by them. It's when these emotional states become outside the normal range of experiences that they can progress to mental health issues or even mental illness. It's not a 'you have it or you don't' thing', which is why proper treatment is important if someone is progressing along that continuum. People who work in theater are just like anyone else where this is concerned and I would think that, just like medical issues/benefits, there would be both coverage and consideration for this, for people onstage and backstage as well."

But what we’re talking about here is when it does get out of hand. Depression and Anxiety are just short hand for their actually names, Major Depressive Disorder and and Anxiety Disorder (there are many types). You can’t kind of have it, it is a you have it or you don’t. But, yes, coverage and benefits for everyone working in the theatre is very important! I can’t imagine what those ushers go through with the state of theatre etiquette these days, I would be struggling too

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Mental illness and working in theatre #17
Posted: 9/10/19 at 10:45am

inmyownlittlecorner said: 
But what we’re talking about here is when it does get out of hand. Depression and Anxiety are just short hand for their actually names, Major Depressive Disorder and and Anxiety Disorder (there are many types). You can’t kind of have it, it is a you have it or you don’t. But, yes, coverage and benefits for everyone working in the theatre is very important! I can’t imagine what those ushers go through with the state of theatre etiquette these days, I would be struggling too"

You missed my point.  I was talking about treatment before it gets to to those points.  You don't have those disorders on Tuesday when you didn't have them on Monday.  There should be coverage and support for everyone, no matter where they are on the continuum.  The point I was making is to treat the issue before it "gets out of hand".

inmyownlittlecorner
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Mental illness and working in theatre #18
Posted: 9/10/19 at 10:50am

AADA81 said: "inmyownlittlecorner said:
But what we’re talking about here is when it does get out of hand. Depression and Anxiety are just short hand for their actually names, Major Depressive Disorder and and Anxiety Disorder (there are many types). You can’t kind of have it, it is a you have it or you don’t. But, yes, coverage and benefits for everyone working in the theatre is very important! I can’t imagine what those ushers go through with the state of theatre etiquette these days, I would be struggling too"

You missed my point. I was talking about treatment before it gets to to those points. You don't have those disorders on Tuesday when you didn't have them on Monday. There should be coverage and support for everyone, no matter where they are on the continuum. The point I was makingis to treat the issue before it "gets out of hand".
"

Makes more sense, ha. It’s been a long day already and it’s not even noon!

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Mental illness and working in theatre #19
Posted: 9/10/19 at 10:55am

inmyownlittlecorner said: "As soon as I saw the title, my heart stopped because of the last time we talked about mental health here, ha.

I can’t think of a show that I’ve been in where there hasn’t been someone who suffers from some mental health issue. And that’s excluding myself! There’s just so much of a stigma around being mentally ill, especially with anxiety disorders, that people don’t talk about it.

I suffer from some pretty debilitating social anxiety except for when I’m onstage. There, while I have anxiety, something there stops me from a panic attack (my therapist and I haven’t figured out what it is yet).

But so many people don’t understand mental illness think you can’t be onstage and have anxiety because, hey, they conflict! I think that’s where the stigma comes from, is thinking that you can’t complete the job with these mental health struggles.

Another actor that I can think of that’s been open about their struggles with mental health is Eva Noblezada. Her Twitter is full of discussion about creating a mentally healthyenvironment. She’s been pretty open about her struggles with her body, and bouts of depression
"

I'm exactly the same way- I have terrible social anxiety, but I'm fine being on stage! The problems come more with rehearsing and discussing my ideas about a character/show with other people- but when I'm actually being the character I'm fine! 

Also want to add Tee Boyich (from Mean Girls) as an example of someone who is very open about her mental health (anxiety and depression specifically) on social media.

 

inmyownlittlecorner
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Mental illness and working in theatre #20
Posted: 9/10/19 at 11:00am

cbj97 said: "inmyownlittlecorner said: "As soon as I saw the title, my heart stopped because of the last time we talked about mental health here, ha.

I can’t think of a show that I’ve been in where there hasn’t been someone who suffers from some mental health issue. And that’s excluding myself! There’s just so much of a stigma around being mentally ill, especially with anxiety disorders, that people don’t talk about it.

I suffer from some pretty debilitating social anxiety except for when I’m onstage. There, while I have anxiety, something there stops me from a panic attack (my therapist and I haven’t figured out what it is yet).

But so many people don’t understand mental illness think you can’t be onstage and have anxiety because, hey, they conflict! I think that’s where the stigma comes from, is thinking that you can’t complete the job with these mental health struggles.

Another actor that I can think of that’s been open about their struggles with mental health is Eva Noblezada. Her Twitter is full of discussion about creating a mentally healthyenvironment. She’s been pretty open about her struggles with her body, and bouts of depression
"

I'm exactly the same way- I have terrible social anxiety, but I'm fine being on stage! The problems come more with rehearsing and discussing my ideas about a character/show with other people- but when I'm actually being the character I'm fine!

Also want to add Tee Boyich (from Mean Girls) as an example of someone who is very open about her mental health (anxiety and depression specifically) on social media.


"

Goodness, how could I have forgotten Tee, I was just looking at her Instagram a moment ago! She’s absolutely incredible, I don’t know how she’s done half the things she has. She came to my city to perform for our season reveal, an absolute gem. Wish I could have met her that night but she probably booked it after she was done, there were a lot of people on that stage that night.

I feel like Andrew Barth Feldman has mention his mental health here or there but I might be mixing him up with another Evan. There are too many Evans, I swear to god 

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Mental illness and working in theatre #21
Posted: 9/10/19 at 1:28pm

It's a vicious circle - people with depression and anxiety (as in, actual mood disorders, not just a temporary state) tend to gravitate towards the arts, and yet...the arts - at least in the professional sense - tend to make those disorders worse with the kind of lifestyle it involves, not to mention the whole baring your soul and then being rejected over and over again thing.

As I approach middle age as an actor - and as someone with the triple crown of neurosis (depression, anxiety, OCD) - I continue to struggle with having a career in the arts while also maintaining my mental health. I will say that therapy, medication, a supportive partner, and making active decisions to maintain a sense of control over one's life are very important. It is also essential to have a life outside of the arts - friends, family, other interests, a day/survival job that you actually enjoy. I cannot emphasize this enough.

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Mental illness and working in theatre #22
Posted: 9/10/19 at 8:31pm
Yes to all of this. I love that this discussion is happening on here. The only thing that worries me is that people have become wildly too flexible with the word mental illness. You can have anxiety / feel depressed and not have clinical depression or generalized anxiety disorder. I just think it’s important that the people who do choose to use their platform to speak out about it do it with care and responsibility. For mental illnesses that are truly a chemical imbalance, you can’t just fix it with reading your horoscope everyday or doing a face mask or going to yoga. Those things can help and are great, of course, but they shouldn’t be put in the heads of young people as solutions. If we’re gonna have conversations about self-care, let’s talk about the nitty gritty processes that can create sustainable change. Sorry if this sounds pretentious, I don’t mean it to, I’m just passionate about it
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Mental illness and working in theatre #23
Posted: 9/10/19 at 8:32pm

The Distinctive Baritone said: "It's a vicious circle - people with depression and anxiety (as in, actual mood disorders, not just a temporary state) tend to gravitate towards the arts, and yet...the arts - at least in the professional sense -tendto make those disorders worse with the kind of lifestyle it involves, not to mention the whole baring your soul and then being rejected over and over again thing.

As I approach middle age as an actor - and as someone with the triple crown of neurosis (depression, anxiety, OCD) - I continue to struggle with having a career in the arts while also maintaining my mental health. I will say that therapy, medication, a supportive partner, and making active decisions to maintain a sense of control over one's life are very important. It is also essential to have a life outside of the arts - friends, family, other interests, a day/survival job that you actually enjoy. I cannot emphasize this enough.
"

Hi. I also have ocd / depression / anxiety & just started medication 6 something months ago. It’s comforting to see someone else on here with the same thing!

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Mental illness and working in theatre #24
Posted: 9/10/19 at 8:48pm
6853, I’ve been on Prozac on and off (mostly on) for about 24 years. It has probably saved my life at least once.
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Mental illness and working in theatre #25
Posted: 9/10/19 at 9:00pm

inmyownlittlecorner said: "cbj97 said: "inmyownlittlecorner said: "As soon as I saw the title, my heart stopped because of the last time we talked about mental health here, ha.

I can’t think of a show that I’ve been in where there hasn’t been someone who suffers from some mental health issue. And that’s excluding myself! There’s just so much of a stigma around being mentally ill, especially with anxiety disorders, that people don’t talk about it.

I suffer from some pretty debilitating social anxiety except for when I’m onstage. There, while I have anxiety, something there stops me from a panic attack (my therapist and I haven’t figured out what it is yet).

But so many people don’t understand mental illness think you can’t be onstage and have anxiety because, hey, they conflict! I think that’s where the stigma comes from, is thinking that you can’t complete the job with these mental health struggles.

Another actor that I can think of that’s been open about their struggles with mental health is Eva Noblezada. Her Twitter is full of discussion about creating a mentally healthyenvironment. She’s been pretty open about her struggles with her body, and bouts of depression
"

I'm exactly the same way- I have terrible social anxiety, but I'm fine being on stage! The problems come more with rehearsing and discussing my ideas about a character/show with other people- but when I'm actually being the character I'm fine!

Also want to add Tee Boyich (from Mean Girls) as an example of someone who is very open about her mental health (anxiety and depression specifically) on social media.


"

Goodness, how could I have forgotten Tee, I was just looking at her Instagram a moment ago! She’s absolutely incredible, I don’t know how she’s done half the things she has. She came to my city to perform for our season reveal, an absolute gem. Wish I could have met her that night but she probably booked it after she was done, there were a lot of people on that stage that night.

I feel like Andrew Barth Feldman has mention his mental health here or there but I might be mixing him up with another Evan. There are too many Evans, I swear to god
"

 

Ben Platt 'I am queer, Jewish and socially anxious'

https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/ben-platt-new-album-interview-2019

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