The revelation that Catherine Zeta-Jones is being treated for bi-polar disorder shook me this week.
here are numerous perceptions of the illness and how it manifests itself. But though I feel I have a relatively enlightened understanding of it - two very close friends are sufferers - I was shocked to discover this immensely glamorous high-powered Hollywood A-lister who has had such success, is a victim.
In my experience, bi-polar is a cruel and frightening illness. It can be debilitating, difficult to manage and hard to predict. It creeps in when confidence is low and grips you in paranoia.
It's almost impossible to imagine that someone like Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has always seemed to enjoy responsibility and taking charge of her brood, has been secretly privy to such a disorder.
Of course it seems that it is the fierceness with which Catherine protects and loves that brood which has brought on, or worsened, her condition. The stress of dealing with husband Michael Douglas's throat cancer has evidently pushed her into the depth of fear and despair, the state a parasitical vulture like bi-polar thrives on.
It's unusually brave of her to have gone public with her disorder. Her feted Welsh valley gutsiness has given her the strength to be honest about her mental vulnerability and for that I applaud her wholeheartedly.