Katherine Heigl Says Being Labeled as ‘Difficult’ Amid ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Feud Caused Severe Anxiety

Sorry, not sorry. Katherine Heigl admitted that backlash about her behind-the-scenes reputation took a major toll on her mental health after her Grey’s Anatomy exit.

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“I may have said a couple of things you didn’t like, but then that escalated to ‘she’s ungrateful,’ then that escalated to ‘she’s difficult,’ and that escalated to ‘she’s unprofessional,'” the 27 Dresses star recalled in a recent interview with The Washington Post, published on Thursday, January 28. “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don’t like? Now, I’m 42, and that s–t pisses me off.”

Heigl played Dr. Izzie Stevens on the long-running ABC drama for six seasons before ultimately leaving the show in 2010. Two years prior, she raised eyebrows when she withdrew herself for Emmys consideration because she didn’t think the “material” she was given during season 4 was worthy of a nomination. Her comments quickly sparked rumors of tension between her and Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes, who said at the time that she was “surprised” but not “insulted” by Heigl’s statement.

Katherine Heigl Says Being Labeled as Difficult Amid Greys Anatomy Feud Caused Severe Anxiety
Katherine Heigl on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2005. Abc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

“At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the f–k up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it,” Heigl continued. “The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.”

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After leaving Grey’s Anatomy, Heigl put more focus into her film career. However, the whispers about her behavior caused a “shunning” within the industry and she noticed that her “films started to make not quite as much money.” During her darkest moments, her husband, Josh Kelley, was “very worried” about the state of her mental health.

“If she said [some of it] today, she’d be a hero,” Kelley, 40, told the outlet. “I can’t imagine what all of that pressure did to her over the years. … It would be hard for anybody to process that, especially when it’s unjust and a lot of it’s negative.”

Heigl married the singer-songwriter in 2007 and they adopted daughter Naleigh, now 12, two years later. In 2012, they adopted daughter Adalaide, now 8, and welcomed son Joshua in December 2016. One year before giving birth to her son, the Firefly Lane star experienced an extreme uptick in anxiety.

Josh Kelly and Katherine Heigl attend the CMT Music Awards Katherine Heigl Says Being Labeled as Difficult Amid Greys Anatomy Feud Caused Severe Anxiety
Josh Kelly and Katherine Heigl attend the CMT Music Awards in Nashville on June 7, 2017. Jim Smeal/Shutterstock

“I asked my mom and my husband to find me somewhere to go that could help me because I felt like I would rather be dead,” she recalled. “I didn’t realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help. You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I’m a big fan of Zoloft.”

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While Rhimes, 51, has previously made shady comments about Heigl in the years since their rumored feud began, the Knocked Up star has seemingly put the bad blood behind her. On Wednesday, January 27, she told E! News’ Daily Pop that she would “never say never” to making an appearance on the medical drama. Despite the ups and downs her career has faced, Heigl is comfortable making bold choices and advocating for herself on set.

“I’ve grown into accepting that ambition is not a dirty word,” she told The Washington Post. “And that it doesn’t make me less of a feminine, loving, nurturing woman to be ambitious and have big dreams and big goals. It’s easier to be happy because I have a little more gentleness for myself.”

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