'It's a sign of absolute strength:' Britney Spears focuses on her mental health

You probably remember one of the internet's first viral stars, Chris Crocker — who rose to YouTube stardom after posting a video of himself with a mascara stained face, crying, "Leave Britney alone!"

"(It) was always about standing up for someone and not standing idly by when you see someone being hurt by others," Chris wrote on Instagram in 2017, a decade after posting the video.

Of course, the Britney he was talking about was none other than the one and only Britney Spears. And, looking back now, it's sad that, when Britney was struggling with her mental health in 2007, Chris was one of the few people to publicly stand up for her.

2007 was an awful year for Britney - the year she divorced her husband, checked in and out of rehab, lost custody of her sons and shaved her head. She said, at the time, she felt overwhelmed and not in control of her own life.

Instead of people saying things like, "Wow, Britney is struggling right now. She needs support," she became the butt of jokes, and her career was affected for a while afterward.

Britney later said that she battles with anxiety disorder. As a fellow anxiety disorder-er (would that be the correct term for what I am?), I know it's something I will always have but  - with the help of meds and therapy - I can get it under control for months or even years at a time. Then something bad or extremely stressful will happen in my life, it will trigger my anxiety and I'll have a breakdown.

With everything Britney went through in 2007 while already dealing with anxiety disorder, it's no wonder she had a breakdown. I know that I would too in her situation — especially with, on top of it all, being in a media fishbowl while going through it.

But she overcame it and was stronger than her disorder. In an interview two years ago, she said, "Today I'm at a better place in my life. ... My thirties are much better for me. I've learned to get to know myself better."

Now, in 2019, with the failing health of her father after a life-threatening colon rupture, understandably it has triggered Britney's anxiety and depression again. A week ago, she checked into a mental health facility for 30 days. She will be taking an indefinite work hiatus —  postponing the release of her new album and taking a break from her Las Vegas show until further notice. On April 3, she posted on Instagram for the first time in almost three months, "Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Mind. Body. Spirit."

And, as a testament to how the conversation surrounding mental health has changed since 2007, so many more people are SUPPORTING Britney this time around! And it makes me oh so happy.

Fellow singer Celine Dion had these words of encouragement for Britney: "Right now she needs courage, so I'm sending her all my courage, and my inner strength, and my stability, and the love and respect I do have for other artists."

Britney's boyfriend Sam Asghari wrote, "It isn't weakness, it's a sign of absolute strength. People should only be inspired by this, at least I am."

"Absolutely no shame in doing what you need to do to maintain your mental health. Good for Britney Spears for doing what she needs to do for herself and her family," tweeted Kurt Bardella, worldwide news contributor and former senior adviser for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Digiday News Editor Ilana Kaplan said, "I'm glad Britney Spears is getting the help she needs, and I hope in 2019, society doesn't make the same mistake twice and mock her mental health."

For me, I've been a Britney fan ever since I first saw her on television. I was in the fourth or fifth grade at an after-school club meeting at a student's house. We had MTV on in the background and, when the "Baby One More Time" music video came on, we immediately stopped what we we doing and watched. Since then, I've supported her (and I wish in 2007 I had this blog and was as versed about mental health as I am now so I could have stood up for her then too).

Britney is a strong woman. When she was battling with her mental health in 2007, she didn't take her life but, instead, took off her hair (way better decision!). And, now, when battling with her mental health again, instead of hiding it, she is opening up about it and deciding to take time off for self-care.

Being able to know when you have to take care of yourself and fighting for your life despite your mental illness - that takes so much strength and courage. You are a role model to the entire mental health community, and I applaud you, Britney!

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