Paramedics responded to an emergency call from actress Demi Moore’s Franklin Canyon Park address on Tuesday night and rushed the 49-year-old to the hospital. A fire department spokesman would say only that the cause for the late-night call was “an unknown illness,” according to the New York Daily News, but TMZ.com, which broke the news, reported that the reason substance abuse.
Update [Jan. 26, 2012]: TMZ.com reports that friends at Moore’s home told emergency workers that Moore had been doing whippits, a term for inhaling nitrous oxide, before suffering symptoms of a seizure, which is what prompted the call to 911.
Moore’s publicist chalked it up to “exhaustion,” saying in a statement that “because of the stresses in her life right now, Demi has chosen to seek professional assistance to treat her exhaustion and improve her overall health.”
Whatever the cause, concerns about Moore’s health have escalated since her November split with husband Ashton Kutcher, fueled by her weight loss and comments she made to Harper’s Bazaar about body image and self-esteem. In the magazine’s February issue, she admits:
I have had a love-hate relationship with my body. When I’m at the greatest odds with my body, it’s usually because I feel my body’s betraying me, whether that’s been in the past, struggling with my weight and feeling that I couldn’t eat what I wanted to eat, or that I couldn’t get my body to do what I wanted it to do.
I find peace when I don’t see my body as my enemy, when I step back and have appreciation and look at all that my body has done for me. It’s allowed me to give birth to three beautiful children, allowed me to explore different roles as an actor, allowed me to be strong. You can’t look at yourself in the mirror and tear your body apart. You have to look at it and go, “Thank you. Thank you for standing by me, for being there for me no matter what I have put you through.”
In the conversation with her longtime friend, Amanda De Cadenet, a fellow actress and photographer, which appears in Bazaar, Moore also reveals her deepest fear:
If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. …
What scares me the most is not knowing and accepting that just about everything is not in my control. That makes me feel unsafe.
Whether these admissions are signs of deeper mental health issues won’t be clear until and unless Moore decides to come forward herself to describe the reason for Tuesday’s 911 call. That hasn’t stopped armchair psychologists from speculating about the meaning behind her words. Writing on Psychology Today‘s website, Seth Meyers, a psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, who has not treated Moore, noted: “With celebrities, their fears and insecurities are sometimes more extreme because everything about them is more extreme: their beauty, their wealth, the roller-coaster nature of their lives that get lived out in front of the cameras.”
Which is why the impact of their health issues, especially those involving their mental well-being, are a double-edged sword: it’s more challenging for celebrities to get the private time they need to tend to their health, but because of their high profile, they are also able to bring attention to symptoms and conditions that may inspire others to seek the treatment and help they need.