Zachary Levi Reveals Mental Breakdown, Battle with Anxiety, Depression

Zachary Levi has a memoir coming out June 28 titled Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others. In there, Shazam! The franchise star revealed that his journey to get to a place where he can fully love himself and accept has been a tough one as he has faced a lifelong battle with anxiety, depression and low self-worth due to being raised in a complex and abusive household filled with high expectations.

The 41-year-old actor says he couldn’t fully pinpoint what his problem was until a severe downward spiral sent him into a mental breakdown at the age of 37, an urgent situation. to the point where he had to seek treatment for three weeks after passing. by suicidal thoughts. Prior to the publication of the book from Harper Horizon, Levi joined veteran host and journalist Elizabeth Vargas about her The heart of the matter podcast for Partnership to End Addiction to discuss all of the above in an incredibly honest interview launching June 28.

Levi, known for his work on other popular projects such as Chuck, Tangled, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, American Underdog and The Mauritania (and coming soon Shazam! Fury of the Gods), also addresses the misconception that wealthy and/or public figures don’t have such struggles, how the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Robin Williams affected him, at why did he delay the release Radical love and the rituals he practices to stay in a healthy place.

In the opening moments of the podcast, Vargas opens up about her own struggles with substance abuse and anxiety (and finding recovery), as recounted in her book that Between breaths – praised Levi’s book as “amazing” and “incredibly honest” about how he detailed his mental health issues.

“I’ve struggled with these for most of my life. I didn’t realize I was struggling with these things until I was 37, about five years ago, and I had a complete mental breakdown,” Levi explained before revealing his struggles. he started at a young age growing up in a complicated family. “For most of my life, I grew up in a family where my stepfather was a perfectionist of the highest order, unattainable high bar, and then a mother who was a personality. boundary. So she doesn’t have an unimaginably high bar. She had an impossible target because it kept moving. Anyone who spends time with borderline personalities, if I come home and my mom is in a good mood, I can say to her, ‘Hey, you didn’t do well on this test at school’, and mom would be like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that. There’s going to be another test and we can work on it, ‘whatever it is, but if she’s in a bad mood, it’s the end of the world. I am a shame to the family. I mean, that’s a lot of vitriol, a lot of screaming. “

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As he got older, Levi, like so many people in his position, treated his problems with a combination of substances and vices. “I have run to so many other things, whether it’s sex, drugs or alcohol or things that distract me, to numb myself from the pain I’ve been running from most of my life, ” he recounted. “The irony is that alcohol can give you a temporary relief, but then the next day increases that anxiety tenfold. So then you’re going back to get more and it just becomes a vicious cycle.”

Levi’s career also plays a part in how he’s going to beat himself up. At one point, he believed moving to Austin and building a movie studio would be what gives him life purpose. “My career is in a place where I feel like despite having accomplished a lot up to that point, I still am, and to be honest, even now, I still feel that way. I feel like I have something on the outside when I look in. I never really felt like I was part of such a wonderful group of kids,” he said, adding that those feelings can be traced back to childhood as a “nerd” kid. “I think that carried me through my career in Hollywood, and it’s reaffirmed to you in the lies you tell yourself when you don’t get some number. certain job, you’re not hired to go do that movie or that show. This level of director or producer or actor or whatever.”

Vargas asked Levi to detail the panic attack that eventually led him to seek treatment, and he recounted that after moving to Austin, he had difficulty performing everyday activities such as opening boxes. and choose a restaurant to eat. Feelings of despair mixed with self-hatred and panic created an emotional crisis.

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“I drove for about 10 minutes not knowing where to eat because I didn’t know the right place to eat as opposed to just saying, ‘Zach, go get some food. It’s not important. It doesn’t matter if you go to that pizzeria or that Chinese place or whatever. Just go get some food. If you’re hungry, go get some food,” he continued. “I was sitting in my truck, and it was clear, I remember holding on to the steering wheel and I was just rocking back and forth, like almost trying to shake myself off of what was going on, and I just cried. I’m just crying. I was like, “God, help me.”

He then recounted how he ended up in the emergency room due to suicidal thoughts. “I had very positive thoughts about ending my life,” he revealed. “This is not the first time I have had them. I’ve been in dark places in my life before, but I guess in those moments, I have people around me. I mean I was stupid, I think I made the right choice to move to Austin. I don’t think I did it correctly. I didn’t realize I ran away so much, but I moved out here and there was no one. I have no support structure. … So in this particular moment, I am here in this wonderful city, but basically alone, and the darkness surrounds me again. The lies are whispering in my ears and the failure I feel that I’ve been, enough to be like, ‘Zach, looks like you’re not going to make this.’

At the suggestion of “a dear friend,” he sought treatment in a psychiatry room and spent three weeks in “intensive life-saving, life-changing therapy.”

During the interview, he also shared how he was affected by the suicides of Bourdain, Williams and Kate Spade. Of Williams, Levi said, “Robin, he’s a hero to me. His talent, his heart, the way he loves people, the way he loves the homeless, the way he cares for them, he is a real, real person, deeply empathetic and genuinely interested in others, and so tortured in his own mind. I think that might be part of why he feels obliged to bring joy to the world. I feel very, very similar to that. “

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When he passed away, “It really, really, really, really rocked me because I felt as if if he couldn’t make it, I don’t know where I’d end up going. unless I can somehow find a way not to keep falling into places of depression and anxiety like this.”

Although Levi has managed to work through his problems, he lives with them and is manageable with a healthy routine that focuses on diet, exercise, and good sleep habits. “Prayer and meditation are so important, in some ways, they are synonymous. Sometimes my prayer is meditation. Sometimes I just stay there and allow God to take over that time. I don’t really say much because I just take the time. I think one of the most important things, at least for me, is to get my thoughts captive. Our minds are powerful, but they are so easy, so easy to take over if we don’t really go, ‘Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I’m doing it again. I started talking bad about myself again. I started to be strict or critical of myself. I am beginning to evaluate my place in life. ‘”

The full podcast episode can be found here.

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