Kristen Bell may seem like one of the most cheerful actresses in Hollywood, but, as she chronicles in a new essay for Motto, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s been living with anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. In fact, it’s all part of the package for some people.
In the essay, Bell reveals that she developed depression in college but stayed silent about it for several years: “I didn’t speak publicly about my struggles with mental health for the first 15 years of my career. But now I’m at a point where I don’t believe anything should be taboo. So here I am, talking to you about what I’ve experienced.”
While studying at New York University, Bell writes, “I felt plagued with a negative attitude and a sense that I was permanently in the shade. … I’m normally such a bubbly, positive person, and all of a sudden I stopped feeling like myself.”
“Depression is not sadness,” she clarifies. “It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.”
Thanks to her mother’s openness towards mental illness, Bell was able to seek help, something she hopes can be possible for everyone: “It’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer.
Bell notes that the “extreme stigma” surrounding mental health makes it particularly difficult for people to seek help. “20 per cent of American adults face some form of mental illness in their lifetime. So why aren’t we talking about it?”
She goes on to suggest that mental health evaluations should be as routine as dentist appointments, adding, “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they’re vulnerable. But there’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people. And I don’t want you to feel alone.”