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What 8 Celebrities Say About Living With Anxiety

Celebrity News

Celebrities have proven that their famous status doesn't make them exempt from struggling with anxiety. Living their lives for the world to see, judge and react with a meme or GIF sometimes can only add to the apprehension they experience. While some can say each celebrity signed up for living their life in the public, anxiety is something that anyone, famous or not, can relate to.

Fortunately, stars like Cardi B, Big Sean and Taraji P. Henson haven't been holding back lately when it comes to discussing their experiences. Beyond the idea that it normalizes them, they've given their own reflective moments of how they've been able to treat it and make it through. Check out what some of our faves have to say about dealing with anxiety.

Big Sean Opens Up About Dealing With Anxiety:

Big Sean was MIA for roughly a year before he opened up about dealing with anxiety. He seemed to be on top of the world before he canceled a tour in 2018 and took a step back from the spotlight altogether. Upon his return, he revealed he was dealing with anxiety and depression. He deleted all of his previous Instagram posts and started fresh with a series of videos to update his fans:

"I felt like something wasn't all the way connecting with my energy. I wasn't feeling like myself and I couldn't figure out why. I stepped back from everything I was doing and everything I had going on because somewhere in the middle of it I just felt lost…I got a good therapist. I was blessed enough to talk to some super spiritual people and they made me realize that one thing I was missing in my life… I needed clarity… I had to realize that it all started with me and nurture those relationships that were important to me.
"I started realizing that you can't give or depend on somebody for love or a good time if you can't give it to yourself. I started doing things by myself like going sky diving. In the midst of that I definitely rediscovered myself and found a whole new energy, and me being the source of it, not somebody else."

Missy Elliott Credits God For Getting Her Through Anxiety Attacks:

Missy Elliott has been open about her life with anxiety for quite a few years now. While she's known as a rapper who has broken one boundary after another, she said when she was younger, she was afraid of having too much attention, worried that someone could be laughing at her. She revealed that she had an anxiety attack before her surprise performance at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015. She credits God for getting her through tough moments like that:

"I said, 'If I can get over this step, then I know all my dance steps will be on point.' I know it was nothing but the grace of God that lifted me up and took me through that performance."

Taraji P. Henson On Her Experience With Anxiety And Depression:

It seems like everywhere we look, Taraji P. Henson is rocking a new role. But the iconic actress recently talked about her experience with anxiety and depression. She confessed that it's her level of fame that can make it even worse at times. Henson added that while talking about it with loved ones can be healthy, seeing a therapist is what helps her cope:

"My anxiety is kicking up even more every day, and I've never really dealt with anxiety like that. It's something new. [Fame] was fun at first, but the older I get, the more private I want to be. I think there's a misconception with people in the limelight that we have it all together, and because we have money now and are living out our dreams, everything is fine. That's not the case. When they yell 'Cut' and 'That's a wrap,' I go home to very serious problems. I'm still a real human."
"I talk to someone. I have a therapist that I speak to. That's the only way I can get through it. 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."

She also opened up about the stigma that the Black community doesn't embrace professional therapy:

"We're walking around broken, wounded and hurt, and we don't think it's OK to talk about it. We don't talk about it at home. It's shunned. It's something that makes you look weak. We're told to pray it away. Everyone was always asking me, 'Do you have a charity?' Well, dammit, this is going to be my calling, because I'm sick of this."

Cardi B Opens Up About Her Battle With Postpartum Depression: 

On the heels of her Grammy win, Cardi B opened up about her battle with postpartum depression after welcoming her daughter in July 2018:

"I thought I was going to avoid it. When I gave birth, the doctor told me about postpartum, and I was like, 'Well, I'm doing good right now, I don't think that's going to happen.' But out of nowhere, the world was heavy on my shoulders."
"For some reason, I still don't feel like my body's the same. I feel like I don't have my balance right yet. When it comes to heels, I'm not as good at walking anymore. I feel like I'm holding a weight on me. I don't know why because I'm skinnier than I've ever been. But there's an energy I haven't gotten back yet that I had before I was pregnant. It's just the weirdest thing."

How does she get through it? The "Please Me" rapper said she takes breaks from social media.

"I really don't need it, and sometimes it just brings chaos to my brain."

Justin Bieber On Depression During His Purpose Tour Causing Him To Cancel 14 Shows:

The singer is another one who took a break from fame (as much as he could anyway), and revealed his life with depression and anxiety. He said he had depression during his Purpose tour in 2017, causing him to cancel 14 shows:

"I haven't talked about this, and I'm still processing so much stuff that I haven't talked about. I was lonely. I needed some time. It's been so hard for me to trust people. I've struggled with the feeling that people are using me or aren't really there for me … One of the big things for me is trusting myself. I've made some bad decisions personally, and in relationships. Those mistakes have affected my confidence in my judgment. It's been difficult for me even to trust [my wife] Hailey. We've been working through stuff. And it's great, right?"

Bieber admitted that he once turned to Xanax to help him before he started seeing a therapist.

"I have been looking, seeking, trial and error as most of us do, I am now very focused on repairing some of the deep-rooted issues that I have as most of us have, so that I don't fall apart, so that I can sustain my marriage and be the father I want to be. Music is very important to me but Nothing comes before my family and my health."

Kid Cudi Talks Fighting Off His Thoughts Of Suicide: 

Kid Cudi was one of the first celebrities of color to open about anxiety and depression. He wrote an open letter after going to rehab. He said he checked into a facility after he realized the status of his mental health had taken over, preventing him from trusting people, making friends and even living the house. He decided to get help to fight off his thoughts of suicide.

"If I didn't come here, I would've done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions every day of my life… I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others, I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. I'm nervous but I'ma get through this."

Fortunately, more recently he said he's doing great.

"I'm the best I've ever been in my life. I realized I was genuinely happy, and there's nothing really going on in particular. Just being 34, to be still doing what I love. Taking care of my responsibilities, and my daughter's good and my family's good. Creating is making me happy again."

Serena Williams Talks Postpartum Emotions Following The Birth Of Her Daughter: 

New mom Serena Williams said she had a new appreciation for motherhood after welcoming her daughter last year.

"Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I was just in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with."

She said talking about it is what has helped her the most.

"I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It's totally normal to feel like I'm not doing enough for my baby."

Shonda Rhimes Talks Struggles With Social Anxiety:

She's the brains behind most of our favorite primetime shows, but Shonda Rhimes has also struggled with social anxiety.

"I was sort of going on...about all the invitations that I've received and my sister finally sort of cut in and said 'are you going to say yes to any of these things?' and I remember being very taken aback and saying 'no, I'm busy, I can't."

She said her sister brought it to her attention that she never says yes to anything, and that was a moment of reality for her. Her outlet was none other than creating Grey's Anatomy character Cristina Yang, who Rhimes said was her alter ego.

"During my darkest hours, my quietest saddest moments, my loneliest times, writing Cristina Yang fortified me"[I] let her do and think and live in ways that voiced my dreams. She did not want to get married. She had a genius that she chased. She loved her work. I gave her a strident desire to not have children because while I adore children, I wanted to watch her fight that feminist battle and win."

Featured image by Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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