9 Celebrities Who Were Villainized For Their Mental Health (And What We Can Learn From It)

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9 Celebrities Who Were Villainized For Their Mental Health (And What We Can Learn From It)

In July 2021, Simone dropped out of the team and all-around finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games after experiencing what she called the “twisties,” a physical condition triggered by various mental and physical factors, including exhaustion, mental stress, pressure, or losing confidence. Biles later said that her decision to lo leave was in an effort to protect her mental health. Unfortunately, the gymnastics superstar received intense criticism from the media and the keyboard warriors on Twitter, most of which came from a large male majority, for her decision. Piers Morgan tweeted a Daily Mail article writing, “Sorry Simone Biles, but there’s nothing heroic or brave about quitting because you’re not having ‘fun’ – you let down your team-mates, your fans and your country.”

What critics failed to consider, however was the real physical toll of mental health struggles. During an October 2021 interview with Today, Biles opened up about suffering from repeat panic attacks at public events, which caused her chest pain that made it difficult to breathe. Biles was also one of several women who testified against the US gymnastics team’s former doctor, Larry Nasser for abuse. Per The Guardian, Biles shared she had been suppressing her feelings about the abuse she suffered for years, but felt it internally. “The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us,” she said.

Despite facing criticism for dropping out of the Olympic games, Biles courageously stood by her decision, making a clear statement that mental health comes above everything else. Speaking to Good Housekeeping, she said, “The word ‘champion’ used to just mean being on top or breaking records. Now it means being vulnerable, showing your inner strength, being courageous.” She added, “I learned how courageous and how strong I was. It truly takes some strength to acknowledge that it’s okay to not be okay, and to take a step back to protect your mental and wellbeing. That’s what I did.” Biles has since invested in Cerebral, a mental health telemedicine service where she currently works.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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