These political leaders, from Churchill to Boric, also cannot escape mental illness.

The website of Journal de España recently published an article entitled "Depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder: that Churchill, Kennedy, Gabriel Boric or Manuel Valls suffered from a mental illness." The full text of excerpt is as follows:

Mental illness is stigmatized in international politics because of negative associations it can have with sick. Because of this, most cases remain anonymous and few public figures share their illnesses with world. Some of them were out of key positions when they left, but for others, recognition meant end of their careers. Here are some examples.

Churchill: fighting depression

These political leaders, from Churchill to Boric, also cannot escape mental illness.

Some prominent British leaders suffered from mental illness. Conservative Party member and former Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke openly about his depression, saying that "depression in my heart is like a black dog that bites me at every opportunity." Another former prime minister, Labor leader Harold Wilson, resigned unexpectedly in 1976. He was exhausted physically and mentally, and outside world had a lot of speculation about it.

Currently considered "one of Labor Party's brightest rising stars", Nadia Witt is youngest member of British Parliament. She won seat in 2019 at age of 23. From day she won election, she worked for years and months, running between majestic Palace of Westminster and electorate in East Nottingham.

Whitom announced last May that he had been diagnosed with PTSD and was currently on medical leave. She admitted to silently battling "persistent health issues" for several months, which reached "apparently impossible" levels despite "trying to overcome". Her bold and frank statements were highly appreciated by her colleagues. Four months later, Whitom returned to his work.

Many British politicians suffer in silence. In a survey of 146 members of House of Commons, almost 40% admitted to being stressed, with almost 20% citing sleep disturbances and political fatigue.

Waltz: was "on verge of collapse"

Manuel Valls, 59, admitted last year that 2017 and 2018 were his toughest years. The former French prime minister and former Barcelona city council member said he was unhappy with end of disappointing rule of former President François Hollande. “I was on brink of collapse,” he explained in his book Not a Drop of French Blood.

Critics say Waltz spoke of personal hardships to salvage his unpopular image and justify his return to French politics. In fact, political obsession will run as a candidate for Macronite coalition in parliamentary elections in June. Apart from Waltz's more or less sympathetic philosophy and image, his remarks were notable in that they publicly touched on a taboo subject in French political class, where leaders are often seen as possessing iron-clad mental health.

After losing Socialist primary in January 2017, Waltz fell into a protracted slump. He eats very little, citing a so-called gluten intolerance. These problems coincided with his being sidelined from forward French politics. He went from prime minister to rank-and-file MP, considered a traitor by his former colleagues in Socialist Party, and viewed with suspicion by his new allies in Emmanuel Macron's parliamentary majority..

According to former prime minister, his foray into Catalan politics came as a surprise during a difficult period in his personal life. He decided to change his environment, like a worker who lost his original job and accepted a new professional challenge.

Nixon: Long Covert Drug Use

In recent years, more American politicians have chosen to speak up about their mental health issues as people pay more attention to mental health care, ending a stigma that has persisted for decades, if not centuries. For example, after US Capitol was stormed, some admitted to being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. And in 2020, New York City mayoral candidate Corey Johnson announced his withdrawal from race to focus on fighting depression, admitting he was "relieved" to have made decision.

However, subject remains largely taboo for politically ambitious people in United States. Mental illness or problems are still considered "skeletons in closet" of politicians, including in White House. And in such high-profile figures as Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, these secrets were not revealed until years later.

Relevant investigations and documents show that Nixon was taking Dexamir, a mixture of amphetamines and barbiturates used to treat "mental and emotional stress." He also took half a tablet of Doreton, a sleeping pill, and meprobamate three times a day for anxiety. In 1973, he began taking Valium, which he kept secret, as he did with other drugs.

It is now also known that, in addition to taking a large amount of medication to treat physical ailments, Kennedy also used various medications to treat anxiety and depression. He took daily doses of trimethoprim meprobamate and, less frequently, dexamir, psychostimulant Ritalin, and sedative drug lydianin. Also on his list was antipsychotic trifluoperazine.

In 1972, as a running mate for presidential candidate George McGovern, Thomas Eagleton was forced to withdraw from race after it was revealed that he had been hospitalized for depression and was undergoing electroshock therapy. Since then, neither Republican or Democratic presidential or vice presidential candidate has admitted to experiencing or being treated for any mental health problems. Burton Lee, who served as President Bush Sr.'s physician, called practice "the kiss of death."

Borich: obsessive-compulsive disorder

The World Health Organization estimates that depression and other mental disorders accounted for 22% of illnesses in Latin America and Caribbean in 2017. According to experts, COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have exacerbated situation. While numbers reflect magnitude of problem, political worldoften seems immune to it.

The exceptions are Pablo Longueira of Chile and current President Gabriel Boric. Longueira is one of leaders of far-right Alliance for Independence and Democracy party, and outside world considers him a distinctive personality and a connoisseur of political negotiations. Surprisingly, he dropped out of presidential race in mid-2013 after winning party's primary. Later, MP Hernan Larrain of Independent Democratic Union admitted that Longueira had already faced similar situations. After 2013, Longueira left political center.

Borich has repeatedly mentioned that he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he was diagnosed with when he was 12 years old. “In 2018, I volunteered for inpatient treatment at Horwitz Hospital of University of Chile. Fortunately, unlike vast majority of Chileans, I had opportunity to be treated ... duration of treatment, now I feel good. I take medicine, four times a day and long-term observation, and quality of life has improved, because load is much less."

Borridge said he felt comfortable talking about it. "I think it's good to talk about mental health in Chile. Mental health has always been highly stigmatized and often people keep their mouths shut, bite their teeth and swallow it."

Source: reference news network


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