The crushing effect a 'funny' meme had on Wentworth Miller

Publish Date
Sunday, 16 July 2017, 3:29PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The below story occurred in March of last year. We are re-sharing the story as part of our Break The Silence campaign. Find out more about the campaign here. 

Memes are often shared and spread without much thought. A chuckle, a like or share and that's it. But for people who are the subject of memes, sometimes it's really damaging to them.   

A meme currently doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter gives us a before and after look at Prison Break star Wentworth Miller roughly five years apart – and it has everybody talking.  

 

It was generally accompanied by the caption: "When you break out of prison and find out about McDonald’s monopoly".  

Lighthearted joke? No. Research will provide you with all the info you need to know about Wentworth Miller’s struggle with his sexuality, well-documented depression and attempts at taking his own life.  

The 'joke' quickly becomes unfunny when you know this and Wentworth was quick to respond and let people know exactly how he feels about it:  

"Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time. This one, however, stands out from the rest. In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.  

First and foremost, I was suicidal.  

This is a subject I’ve since written about, spoken about, shared about. But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few. Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time. I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.  

In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be. And I put on weight. Big f–king deal. 

One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc. My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned. In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.  

Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I’m glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist. Anyway. Still. Despite.  

The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness. Of myself and others. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. – W.M."  

Social media is a very powerful tool that can be used for good or bad, unfortunately.   

The Lad Bible soon issued an apology to Wentworth:  

Wentworth Miller,We posted two pictures of you last night to our Facebook page, but today we want to say we’ve got...

Posted by The LAD Bible on Tuesday, 29 March 2016

 

 

Help at hand

If you or someone you know needs help there are a number of places you can turn for support and advice. If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111. You can also see your GP for non-urgent help.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)