Kristen Bell Is Done Staying Silent About Depression: ‘Its Debilitation Was All-Consuming'

Kristen Bell attends the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards on April 14, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Shedding light on a dark situation. Kristen Bell penned a moving essay for Motto on Tuesday, May 31, about her struggle with depression when she was in college and how she learned to cope with the disorder.

“I felt plagued with a negative attitude and a sense that I was permanently in the shade,” the 35-year-old actress wrote. “I’m normally such a bubbly, positive person, and all of a sudden I stopped feeling like myself. There was no logical reason for me to feel this way. I was at New York University, I was paying my bills on time, I had friends and ambition — but for some reason, there was something intangible dragging me down.”

The Frozen star credits her mom for letting her know that help was available and there was no shame in asking for it. She went on to explain why she’s only now opening up about this dark time. “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,” Bell wrote. 

“Here’s the thing: For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness,” she continued. “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. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong. “

Bell’s aim in speaking out is to reduce the stigma around common medical conditions and encourage people to get regular checkups with their doctor for mental health too. “Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain,” she wrote. “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.” 

The House of Lies actress, who is married to Dax Shepard, spoke candidly about the topic earlier this month and revealed that depression and anxiety run in her family. “I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me,” she told Off Camera With Sam Jones. “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.” 

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