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Evan Rachel Wood on Her Psychiatric Hospital Stay After Suicide Attempt: ‘I Have Absolutely No Shame’

Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood attends Heavenly Bodies: Fashion Getty Images

Evan Rachel Wood wants to end the stigma around mental health. The Westworld star penned an essay for Nylon, published on Thursday, January 31, about the time she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital after she attempted suicide.

“When I was 22, I willingly checked myself into a psychiatric hospital, and I have absolutely no shame about it,” the actress, 31, wrote. “Looking back, it was the worst, best thing that ever happened to me.”

Related: Stars Who’ve Battled Mental Health Issues

The morning Wood made her decision, “I felt as though I had been hit by a truck,” she revealed, adding that without skipping a beat, she picked up a phone to call her mother for help after she tried taking her life the night before. “When I said I needed to go to a hospital, I did not mean I needed to go for any physical injuries I may or may not have had. I meant a hospital for my state of mind.”

“For the first time in my entire life, I asked for help,” she explained. “I admitted I could not go on without someone intervening, to pick me up off the floor. I had collapsed under the stress and pressure of being alive. My white flag was up. But dying didn’t work.”

“My mind was not a peaceful place. My mind at the time was filled with scars and shadows and, most importantly, so much shame,” the True Blood alum continued. “I was struggling with PTSD and didn’t know it. PTSD is considered a mental illness; it can be caused by a number of things and is not limited to brave service people. My PTSD was caused by multiple rapes and a severely abusive relationship that went on for years.”

Evan Rachel Wood
Actor Evan Rachel Wood attends The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TNT

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Wood then went on to explain how she felt during those dark times. “I had struggled with anxiety and panic attacks during the course of my life, but this was a whole other level of fear,” she wrote, explaining she’d hear voices that woke her up, see shadows and barely leave her house, while also doing things she wasn’t proud of.

When it came to finding help, she and her mother had a problem finding a facility. “If I didn’t shell out a significant amount of money to snag a private room at a decent place, I don’t know what I would have done,” the singer added, later noting: “It felt like I barely made it in by the skin of my teeth — and I am privileged.”

The Rebel and a Basketcase musician proceeded to describe arriving to the hospital, telling the nurses of her trauma, being evaluated and living there, as well as her daily routine which included group therapy and connecting with her fellow patients.

During her stay, she found solace in music, recalling a night shit sang to Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” The American Gothic star added: “Time stopped and, for a moment, I felt my soul come back. I was starting to feel like me again.”

Related: Hollywood’s Sexual Misconduct Scandals

When her time there was coming to an end, Wood realized she learned a lot. “Being at this place showed me I had much more in common with people than I realized. It also taught me that people could love me, for me, and nothing else,” she noted. “It taught me I was much more resilient than I thought, and that I could laugh again. It taught me that all I needed to feel safe, was a roof over my head, good company, and some warm socks on my feet.”

It was on her last day when her psychiatrist revealed to the actress that her role as troubled teen in 2003’s Thirteen inspired to her become a doctor. “I had felt worthless, and like the world was better off without me. But it turned out I had helped myself in a way I never thought was possible. I gave to someone who then gave back to me,” she said. “And for the first time in years, I felt like maybe things did happen for a reason. Maybe there was a reason why my attempt didn’t work. Maybe I was supposed to be here.”

Today, “I am not always perfect, I am not always at my best, I still struggle with my PTSD, but I know that I will get through it,” Wood concluded the essay. “I have better tools now to get through what seem like the impossible times, and most importantly, I know my worth.”

The mom of 5-year-old Jack (with ex-husband Jamie Bell) has always been vocal about her past with sexual abuse. The Golden Globe nominee first shared her experience in an email to a Rolling Stone reporter in 2016. “I’ve been raped. By a significant other while we were together. And on a separate occasion, by the owner of a bar,” Wood wrote. “I don’t believe we live in a time where people can stay silent any longer. Not given the state our world is in with its blatant bigotry and sexism.”

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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