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Katherine Heigl says anxiety medication has helped her live her best life, and she’s not alone. The “Grey’s Anatomy” alum sat down with Yahoo Life in its series “Unapologetically” to reflect on her life in the spotlight, her journey with anxiety, and her life-changing choice to incorporate medication into her life. In the interview, Heigl explained that after the highs of fame wore off, she struggled to cope with the public’s scrutiny, an inevitable side effect of fame at her caliber.
“I wasn’t grounded or stable in my own self enough to not believe [the public’s perspective of me] myself,” she told Yahoo. “I spent a lot of time in my early 30’s worried that maybe they were right and I was this kind of person. But then defending myself, in my own mind, it’s like that horrible neuroses and anxiety.”
Heigl said anxiety seeped into so many aspects of her life, which left her feeling isolated and unstable. She credits a big piece of her recovery from this anxiety to getting older. But she also knows that educating herself on how to take better care of her mental health, as well as seeking help from medication, has been pivotal in her healing.
“It would have saved me a lot of beating the sh*t out of myself,” she said, reflecting on how her life might have been different if she’d sought help sooner. “It’s, in my opinion, the worst thing I’ve been through as an adult, because I didn’t understand it. I thought it was completely on me that it was a moral or character weakness.”
That perceived weakness is a common barrier in seeking care among people struggling with anxiety. Fortunately, people like Heigl are helping fight the stigma of mental illness and psychiatric medication by sharing their own stories. “It essentially saved my life,” the actor said, referring to antianxiety medication.
After seeking help, Heigl reported a new lease on life, offering hope to anyone facing mental health issues. “I wouldn’t be who I am right now with the life I have right now if I hadn’t gone through a lot of that: the career stuff, the mental health stuff, the loneliness and isolation,” she said. “I wouldn’t have figured out how to take care of myself and I can now.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has resources available, including a helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6424). You can also dial 988, the nation’s new mental health crisis hotline.