Taraji P. Henson has a personal stake in the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which she founded last year in her late father’s memory. The organization’s stated vision is to eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community, and the Empire actress revealed in a Variety interview that she, too, struggles with depression and anxiety.
“I suffer from depression,” Henson, 48, told the magazine. “My anxiety is kicking up even more every day, and I’ve never really dealt with anxiety like that. It’s something new.”
The Oscar-nominated actress disclosed that she has regular appointments with a therapist. “That’s the only way I can get through it,” she explained. “You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises. So that when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments. It’s a professional — someone who studies the human mind, and someone who has no stakes involved.”
She continued: “Their job is to make sure you’re mentally sound, whatever that is, and telling you the truth, which might hurt. Sometimes your friends don’t want to hurt your feelings. If I’m going to change for the better, I need honesty, and sometimes your friends and family don’t have it in them to be brutally honest.”
Henson also said that her celebrity status — and the resulting lack of privacy — has an impact on her mental health. “It wears on me. It does,” she observed. “I have to be conscious about everything. Everything. Every move I make, everything that comes out of my mouth. I have to go over it. That’s not living. That’s not just being. Living is being in the moment and saying whatever the f–k you want to say and that’s what it is.”
“But I can’t do that,” she added. “And once upon a time, I could. It’s depressing. I feel myself changing, and I don’t want to. It’s making me a little hard in a way. It’s making me a little agoraphobic, and I’ve never been, but I have anxiety sometimes when I just want to go outside, and I can’t. Somebody’s got to go with me.”
Even so, the What Men Want star wouldn’t give up her critically acclaimed acting career. “Look, you have to take the good with the bad,” she said. “This is what I wanted. This is what I worked my ass off for my entire career. I’m not complaining, but things are just different now. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
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