Actress Kristen Bell spoke candidly about her struggles with mental illness during an interview on The Off Camera Show with Sam Jones. The mother of two explained she has battled depression and anxiety since a very young age.
The Frozen and Veronica Mars actress told Jones that, while she was popular in high school, she always felt anxious that she wouldn’t be liked, so she changed her interests to match other people’s interests.
Bell said, "I'm extremely co-dependent. I shatter a little bit when I think people don't like me. That's part of why I lead with kindness and I compensate by being very bubbly all the time because it really hurts my feelings when I know I'm not liked. And I know that's not very healthy and I fight it all the time."
Kristen confessed that she didn’t grasp how unhealthy her behavior was until years later, saying, “I really didn’t realize that until I was in my thirties, that I had sort of changed for everybody. And I think I also struggled a lot with anxiety and depression.”
She explained that women in her family struggled with mental illness because of an imbalance of serotonin levels, admitting that her grandmother was one of the first people to be treated for depression by using electroshock therapy. Bell said it was her mother who discussed their family’s history of the disease and helped her figure it out, letting her know that she watched her own mother – Kristen Bell's grandmother – binge drink alone and locked in her bedroom. Bell said, "[My mom's] a nurse and she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself when she was feeling it and when I was 18 said, 'If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here's how you can help yourself."
Interviewer Sam Jones seemed shocked about Kristen Bell’s frankness, since people in Hollywood usually tend to try to pass off as “perfect.” To that, Bell said that there is a tremendous social stigma with being associated with mental illness but that she wants her story to be a way of helping end that stigma.
“I got on a prescription when I was very young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today. I have no shame in that.” Bell added, "If you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever. But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they're immediately crazy or something."
Kristen Bell is married to actor Dax Shepard (Parenthood) who has also been very open about his own struggles. He has previously spoken about his battle with alcoholism and drug addiction (He’s sober since 2004.), and, just a few weeks ago, he opened up about being molested when he was seven years old. Bell, in turn, praised her husband of almost three years in an interview to Us Weekly, saying Shepard was “honest and brave.”
Maybe it was Shepard’s brave honesty that gave Bell the push she needed to speak up about her own struggles. Whatever it was, we are pretty sure it will help other people who fight against mental illness.
Check out Kristen Bell’s complete interview below.