Howie Mandel On Being Truthful About His Struggles With Mental Health

On “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Howie Mandel spoke up about his personal struggles with mental illness. He said that sometimes he would appear to be a happy person from the outside, but he said that’s not the case at all while he’s at home, especially when he’s alone.

He acknowledged that his issues with mental health are worsened rather than eased by his celebrity status.

Upon hearing this, Kelly Clarkson was in disbelief. And Mandel said, “I’m heavily medicated.”

Talking to PEOPLE, the 65-year-old shared that he has struggled with anxiety and OCD since he was a child and practically his entire life. As a child, he was considered “weird” because he didn’t have any friends in school. He’s now claiming that he’s paid to be weird. The America’s Got Talent judge finds that every day is a battle.

He said, “I’m living in a nightmare. I try to anchor myself. I have a beautiful family and I love what I do. But at the same time, I can fall into a dark depression I can’t get out of.”

Mandel, who has been married to his wife Terry since 1980 and has three children, Alex, 31, Riley, 28, and Jackie, 36, says the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly stressful for him.

He said, “There isn’t a waking moment of my life when ‘we could die’ doesn’t come into my psyche. But the solace I would get would be the fact that everybody around me was okay. It’s good to latch onto okay. But [during the pandemic] the whole world was not okay. And it was absolute hell.”

The fact that Mandel didn’t open up about his illnesses until 2006, when in fact he was diagnosed in his forties, shows how much he struggled with making the decision to do so. He shared, “My first thought was that I’ve embarrassed my family. Then I thought, ‘Nobody is going to hire somebody who isn’t stable.’ Those were my fears.”

Through it all, he used humor to get through the toughest moments of his life, just like other comedians…

He said, “My coping skill is finding the funny. If I’m not laughing, then I’m crying. And I still haven’t been that open about how dark and ugly it really gets. Comedy saved me in a way. I’m most comfortable onstage. And when I don’t have anything to do, I turn inward — and that’s not good.”

Despite the fact that Mandel says he continues to battle severe depression, he realizes that the public may not fully comprehend the severity of his condition. He said, “People see inconsistencies, especially in the media.

‘Oh he hugged someone’ or ‘he shook someone’s hand. ’ I can shake your hand. But then I’d think I didn’t wash it well enough. And I’d go back and forth in a loop washing my hands for hours.

I understand the funny in that. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly painful. And I don’t want to defend my mental health. I just want to maintain it.”

According to Mandel, the reason why he is speaking up now about his mental health struggles is because he said that his life’s mission is to remove the stigma.

Going through all this is not going to be easy and he understands that, but he is hopeful that despite all the struggles, he continues to cherish all those moments when there’s no darkness in his life.


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