In his latest quest to spread awareness about mental health, pop culture icon Wil Wheaton has detailed his own struggles with depression and anxiety in a speech posted online from a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conference.
The actor, famous for his roles in movies like Stand By Me, series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory, and voice roles in cartoons like Ben 10 and Teen Titans, made it clear that actors are indeed human, and everyone should seek professional help if they believe they need to, without feeling ashamed or stigmatized.
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“I live life on the lowest difficulty settings — with the Celebrity cheat enabled,” he said in the lengthy transcript, referencing his career in the ’80s and ’90s as a child star when panic attacks began. “Back then, we didn’t know that’s what they were, and because they usually happened when I was asleep, the adults in my life just thought I had nightmares. Well, I did have nightmares, but they were so much worse than just bad dreams,” he explained.
“All the weird, anxious feelings I had all the time? I’d been raised to believe that they were shameful. That they reflected poorly on my parents and my family. That they should be crammed down deep inside me, shared with nobody, and kept secret.”
Wheaton went in depth into his chronic depression and its effect on his career, particularly addressing the pressures of Hollywood for young kids who aren’t prepared. “When I couldn’t remember my lines, because I was so anxious about things I can’t even remember now, directors would accuse me of being unprofessional and unprepared. And that’s when my anxiety turned into depression,” he continued.
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Wheaton addressed how late he waited to seek help for his condition, not until the age of 34, and vowed to continue being an advocate for mental health awareness.
If you’re having issues with mental health, please speak to a health professional as soon as possible, or contact NAMI for support in your state.