Zachary Levi is opening up about his struggles with mental health.
In a recent interview, the Shazam! actor got candid about his battle with anxiety and depression—something he has “struggled with” for most of his life due to childhood trauma and self-doubt in his career.
“I didn’t realize that I was struggling with these things until I was 37, about five years ago,” he said on Heart of the Matter podcast, per The Hollywood Reporter, “and I had a complete mental breakdown.”
Zachary said the breakdown occurred after he moved to Austin, Texas. At the time, he was driving around and could not settle on a place to eat.
“I’m sitting in my truck, and vividly, I remember I was holding onto the wheel and I was just shaking back and forth, that like almost trying to shake myself out of what it was going on, and I’m just weeping. I’m just crying,” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘God, help me.’”
Zachary noted that he was having “very active thoughts of ending my life.” And while “it wasn’t the first time” he had struggled with such thoughts, this time was different as he “didn’t have anybody” after moving to Austin.
“I had been in dark places in my life before, but I guess in those moments I had people around me,” he explained. “I didn’t have a support structure. So, in this particular moment, I’m out here in this wonderful city, but basically by myself, and the darkness surrounds me again.”
He continued, “The lies are whispering into my ear and the failure that I felt that I was enough to be like, ‘Zach, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to make it out of this.’”
After this experience, Zachary said that he followed the advice of a friend by seeking “intensive life-changing, life-saving therapy” at a psych ward for almost a month.
Prior to the treatment program, the Tangled actor had been “running to lots of other things, whether it was sex or drugs or booze” to numb himself “from the pain that I was running away from most of my life,” he said on the podcast.
“The irony is that booze can give you this temporary relief, but then the next day amplifies that anxiety tenfold,” he said. “So, then you’re running back to get more and it just becomes this vicious cycle.”
Reflecting on the root of his struggles, he said it all began during his childhood.
“The majority of my life, I grew up in a household where my stepfather was a perfectionist on the highest of levels, his bar was so high, was impossible to reach, and then a mother who was a borderline personality,” he said. “So, she didn’t have an impossibly high bar. She had an impossible target because it kept moving.”
As Zachary got older, he found himself struggling with his own perception of his career, adding, “I feel like I’m a bit on the outside looking in. I’ve never really felt like I am a part of whatever the cool kid group is.”
Now, he’s embracing prayer and meditation as he continues to move forward. His full podcast episode will be available for listen on June 28.
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