It is all too easy to look at people in the spotlight and assume that they are living a perfect life; they look glamorous and confident, they make millions doing a job they truly love and they seem, genuinely, to be happy and successful.
However, with statistics from the Mental Health Foundation indicating there are at least 8.2 million cases of anxiety annually in the UK alone, you can never truly know what someone is going through behind closed doors.
Now Ryan Reynolds is the latest to join those in the public eye who have chosen to be open about their own battles with mental wellness, crediting wife Blake Lively with helping him through difficult periods.
The Deadpool star, speaking with Variety, recently revealed that he has battled with crippling anxiety ever since he was a child. And a lot of that was due to the pressures put upon him by his father.
“Our father was tough,” explained Reynolds. “He wasn’t easy on anyone. And he wasn’t easy on himself. I think the anxiety might have started there, trying to find ways to control others by trying to control myself. At the time, I never recognized that. I was just a twitchy kid.”
Despite establishing himself in the film industry and finding ways to manage his fears, Reynolds found that his anxiety returned when Deadpool – a film he had passionately campaigned to get off the ground for years – was given the green light.
“I’d write 10 more jokes,” Reynolds said. “I never, ever slept. Or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle – just sitting straight, constantly working at the same time.”
Attempting to bring such a beloved comic book character to the silver screen proved to be incredibly daunting, particularly as fan expectations were so incredibly high. However, whereas he had battled anxiety alone in the past, this time around Gossip Girl star Lively was there to calm him.
“Blake helped me through that,” he said. “I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane.”
It is not the first time that Reynolds has publicly addressed his struggles with anxiety.
In November 2016, he sat down with GQ to discuss the success of Deadpool and admitted he had a “bit of a nervous breakdown” once the film was finally finished.
“I literally had the shakes,” he told them. “I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety’.”
Asked what it was he felt so anxious about, he responded incredibly honestly.
“I say this with the caveat that I completely recognise the ridiculously fortunate position that I am in. But the attention is hard on your nervous system – that might be why I live out in the woods. And I was banging the loudest drum for Deadpool. I wasn't just trying to open it; I was trying to make a cultural phenomenon.”
Anxiety is, according to the Mental Health Foundation, a “type of fear usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but can also arise from something happening right now”.
Symptoms include psychological sensations, such as being unable to concentrate, feeling emotionally numb, and having a sense of dread, as well as physical sensations, such as nausea, tension headaches, difficulty sleeping, or dizziness.
If you suffer from anxiety, your GP can offer talking treatments and certain types of medication to help you stay on top of your anxiety. The charity Mind also provides a number of self-care tips. These include breathing exercises, complementary therapies, and ideas on how best to break the cycle of fear and anxiety.
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