Why Catherine cracked

By admin
20 April 2011

She seemed to have it all – managing a successful career, marriage and motherhood – while appearing impeccably groomed and glamorous all the time. In a town where stars often stumble out of bars or cars she was cool, sensible and sophisticated – and always appeared to be in control.

But Hollywood A-lister ­Catherine Zeta Jonesrecently revealed she’s not always in control.

The 41-year-old checked into a clinic known for treating psychiatric disorders, among them bipolar 2, the condition from which she suffers.

Using the pseudonym Terrie Kirny the Oscar winner admitted herself to the Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut, USA, for five days, seeking treatment for the condition that results in sufferers having mood swings.

Those who have bipolar 2 disorder don’t have the same debilitating lows or manic highs as those with bipolar 1 but they still suffer from depression, mental health experts say. And unlike bipolar 1, where symptoms can manifest for no reason, the lows with bipolar 2 can be triggered by stress or a traumatic event.

A stressful event is what caused Catherine’s need for treat­ment – she was devastated when her husband, actor Michael Douglas (66), was diagnosed with throat cancer in August last year.

“After dealing with the stress of the past year Catherine made the decision to check into a mental-health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar 2 dis­order,” her spokeswoman said.

She’d apparently had far too many sleepless nights while Michael was going through gruel­ling treatment for stage-four cancer and she’d worried about him constantly, a friend of the actress says.

“She’s been through hell. Catherine had a lot of trouble coping. She was chain-smoking and drinking. It was tearing her apart to see such a vital man as Michael in a weakened state – I think she was crumbling.”

Catherine was livid when doctors discovered the walnut-size tumour on the back of her husband’s tongue was malignant. The Wall Street actor had been to several specialist physicians before the diagnosis and none of them had detected the cancerous lump.

“It makes me furious they didn’t detect it earlier,” the star of films such as Traffic and Chicago said then. “He sought every option and nothing was found.”

The resulting six months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment took a heavy toll on Catherine, Michael and their kids, Dylan (11) and Carys (8). “I know maybe I should be stronger but emotionally I just don’t want to see that,” she said soon after the treatment had started. “The hardest part is seeing his fatigue because Michael is never tired.”

The gorgeous brunette soon started to appear in public looking frail and tired. But she returned to her usual glossy self when her husband’s doctors gave him the all-clear in January.

“Doesn’t he look better,” she gushed to journalists at the Golden Globes, their first public appearance since the cancer went into remission. They smiled for the cameras; Michael was given a standing ovation when he presented the best actor award and they even attended a Golden Globes after-party.

To the public it seemed things were once again going well in the Douglas household – until Catherine’s rehab check-in made headlines.

Her revelation has resulted in outpourings of sympathy from around the world with many mental-healthcare organisations praising her for having the courage to talk about having bipolar disorder.

“It’s a hugely positive step that Catherine Zeta Jones has gone public on her condition,” Julia Lambof a mental health charity in the UK says. “People look up to celebrities.”

The Welsh-born actress would have had the disorder for many years, those who work with bipolar patients say, so she’s brave to talk about it now.

Not many people knew she suffered from the condition – even longtime friends say the news came as a shock.

“I’ve known her since we were children and she’s never shown any signs of depression,” one says. “She always seemed so upbeat.”

But there have been signs things weren’t always rosy in Catherine’s world. In 2005 she nearly had a nervous breakdown when Michael testified in the trial of a woman who had stalked them for months.

Michael described how Catherine had lost it the previous year after suffering a panic attack while he was away.

“My wife returned from Amsterdam to our home in Spain. She called me on her way to the airport. She was hysterical and I was concerned she had to keep put­ting her head between her legs. She couldn’t get any air. Her emotions turned to tremendous anger, juxtaposed with extreme vulnerability and deep confusion as to understand what was going on.”

Read more about Catherine's battles in YOU, 28 April 2011.

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