Between his striking good looks, gorgeous wife, millions of dollars, and legendary career, one might simply assume that actor Ryan Reynolds is living the dream life. It turns out, however, that the Deadpool star has struggled with anxiety for decades, as revealed in a candid New York Times profile. To quote Reynolds directly: “I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety.” In that regard, the stars really are just like us. After all, anxiety disorders affect millions of Aussies, and a whopping 40 million Americans.
In the profile, the actor traces his lifelong battle with anxiety back to his childhood, when he and his three older brothers were raised by a “tough father”. Consequently, Reynolds struggled with control issues, searching for ways to “control others by trying to control myself”. Naturally, there was a degree of anxiety attached to the process, making him a “twitchy kid”.
According to Reynolds, the crippling anxiety was at its worst in his 20s, when his star was steadily on the rise. Like his breakout character, Van Wilder, Reynolds was no stranger to the party scene back in those days. Unlike Wilder, however, the actor would wake up paralyzed in the middle of the night, grappling with a range of doubts and uncertainties. Hence, his escapism was grounded in genuine psychological torment, as opposed to the endless pursuit of a good time.
Soon enough, Reynolds was heavily self-medicating, during what he described to the Times as a “real unhinged phase”. It was only after some of his friends began overdosing that he decided to walk away from the habit. Eventually, he discovered meditation, which he utilises to this day (citing the Headspace app as a resource, in particular). However, what really helped Reynolds achieve mental balance was his marriage to actress Blake Lively in 2012. The couple has two children together.
Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds is just one among a number of celebrities to open up about struggles with anxiety. For example, TV host Carson Daly and pro basketball player Kevin Love have both recently discussed their respective anxiety issues in a public forum. Specifically, Daly talked about getting ulcers as a teenager on live TV, while Love described his panic attacks in an op-ed for the Players’ Tribune.
Of course, it doesn’t take a celebrity exposé to realise that some of the world’s foremost personalities come up against a range of psychological struggles on a near-daily basis. Furthermore, conditions like anxiety and depression are something that nearly all of us can relate to, in that we either grapple with them ourselves, or know someone who does.
In the USA, for example, anxiety disorders (OCD, panic disorders, phobias, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, etc) are the most common form of mental illness, affecting 18.1% of the adult population, and 25% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18. On the global scale, it’s estimated that one out of every thirteen people suffers from anxiety, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Australia, the statistics follow along similar lines. To that end, it’s been reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that approximately one out of every seven Aussie adults are affected by an anxiety disorder. The AIHW also claims that almost half of the population between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Needless to say, Ryan Reynolds is far from an anomaly. It’s then important that he (and other public figures) remain candid about their conditions, since that not only provides solidarity to people from all walks of life, but potentially inspires those same people to come forward themselves. After all, if there’s one thing worse than tackling an anxiety disorder, it’s tackling that disorder alone.
Should you be one of the millions of Australians to suffer from an anxiety-related mental disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Whether that means consulting your local physician, or seeking support from institutions like Beyond Blue or Anxiety Treatment Australia, is up to you. What’s important is taking that first step.