Since making his first appearance on screen in the MTV comedy “Failosophy” in 2013, Pete Davidson has become one of the best-known names in comedy, appearing in numerous shows and several movies. His most prominent movie role came in the film “King of Staten Island,” which he co-wrote with Judd Apatow (based on his early life). He’s also been a regular on “Saturday Night Live” since September 2014. Davidson is a popular topic on social media for his relationships with some of the best-known celebrities in Hollywood.
Yet it’s not been an easy ride for Davidson. Much of his comedy is based on personal experiences and his problems with mental illness, which critics say has made him relatable to audiences. However, it’s come at a price. Davidson had said that he was “in and out” of inpatient treatment facilities since he was nine and even contemplated suicide when he was in the fourth or fifth grade.
For Pete Davidson, mental illness is not a laughing matter.
Davidson believed that his drug use — he uses medical marijuana to help manage his Crohn’s disease — affected his behavior. In 2016, he started having episodes of intense emotions like anger and rage, then forgetting what had happened. He was also experiencing bouts of severe depression. Davidson sought help in rehab and was first diagnosed with bipolar disease. But quitting marijuana use and the medications doctors prescribed didn’t seem to help.
Finally, in 2017, when he was 23, Davidson’s therapist diagnosed him with borderline personality disorder or BPD. Many people mistakenly believe that BPD and bipolar disorder are basically the same condition. However, people with BPD experience a fear of abandonment, a lack of confidence and a history of unstable personal relationships, symptoms not generally associated with bipolar disorder.
Davidson says that the diagnosis of BPD changed his life.
“I got diagnosed with BPD a few years ago, and I was always just so confused all the time, and just thought something was wrong, and didn’t know how to deal with it,” Davidson said in a conversation with actress Glenn Close, then an interview for Variety magazine’s Actors On Acting. “Then, when somebody finally tells you, the weight of the world feels lifted off your shoulders. You feel so much better.”
His reaction was a common one. Regardless of whether they’re celebrities or not, people often feel better when they’re finally diagnosed and understand what’s happening to them, their bodies and their minds.
Davidson said the seeds of his condition might have been sown by the death of his firefighter father, Scott Davidson, in the terrorist attacks of September 11 when he was seven years old. Davidson, well-known for his many tattoos, has his father’s badge number, 8418, tattooed on his left arm.
His father’s death made it very hard for him to trust people, he said. While he’s close to his mother and sister, he has trouble learning to trust others.
“My big thing is trust,” he explained. “One day [my father] was here, and the next day he was gone.”
Davidson has always been open about his struggles. It’s one of the ways he finds to deal with depression and BPD. In an interview with radio host Charlemagne Tha God in February 2020, he candidly discussed how he deals with depression and suicidal thoughts.
“I’m always depressed, all the time. I have to constantly bring myself out of it,” he said. “I wake depressed, but now I know my steps. I have to go outside and be in the sun for a little bit or go for a walk. It’s all just programming yourself to trick your brain.”
Davidson’s BPD can scare his family and friends. However, those same people are the ones who help him cope with his mental illness.
“My rock bottom is when people are scared for my life and I have to go away, and then I have to bring myself back up again. I think I’ve hit it a few times. As long as you’re around good, supportive people, and if you’re strong enough, you’ll be able to get out of it,” Davidson said.
Considering how popular he is on social media, Davidson said quitting social media in July 2018 has helped him a great deal.
“Everybody is different, and there are a lot of treatments for mental illnesses and I have done/am doing all of them,” he wrote when he decided to leave online. “And I encourage those who struggle to seek help as well; it has changed my life for the better. I just think it’s f**ked up to stigmatize people as crazy and say that they are unable to do stuff that anyone can do. It’s not their fault, and it’s the wrong way for people to look at things.”
Davidson has been publicly supportive of people who have mental health issues and who need therapy.
“My therapists are really on the ball, and I’m really lucky to have them in my life. I recommend that everyone go to therapy.”
Many people think happiness comes with being a celebrity, but Davidson’s comments about his struggles with BPD undermine that fallacy. His willingness to openly deal with how depression and suicidal thoughts have impacted his life and how he’s learned to deal with them are examples of the positive impact celebrities can have on these critical issues. If someone who struggles with depression or BPD sees a celebrity like Davidson openly discussing his struggles and how he deals with them, they can be motivated to seek help.
If you think you have BPD or some other mental illness affecting your interactions with your family, friends and coworkers, we can help. It’s time to reach out and speak with someone. Our compassionate counselors are standing by 24/7 to help you on the road to recovery. You can call us at (844) 299-0618.