Ryan Reynolds may not come off as someone who struggles with mental health, but the comedian and actor has had a lifelong battle with anxiety disorders.
He gets wracked by dread and nausea before every talk-show appearance and becomes quite convinced he might die. During his ABC sitcom days, he chose to warm up the audience, partly to ingratiate himself, but mostly to redirect his panic or, as he describes it, “the energy of just wanting to throw up.” When we met at the Four Seasons here in Beverly Hills late one afternoon in April, he had barely eaten all day, because interviews for profiles make him crazy jittery too.
Reynolds commented on the matter saying:
“I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety. Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”
In his 20’s, Reynolds admitted that his anxiety was so bad–he only got through it by self-medicating.
While many would look at Reynold’s as an actor, father, husband, and all-around funny human being as being “happy” and “humorous at all times,” it’s pretty far from the reality of his life. He also recounts that his childhood was extremely stressful, which could have added to his mental health struggles as an adult. His father, Jim Reynolds, was the “stress dispensary in our house,” as Reynolds told The Times.
“I became this young skin-covered micro manager. When you stress out kids, there’s a weird paradox that happens because they’re suddenly taking on things that aren’t theirs to take on.”
Reynolds also says that his character, Deadpool, has been helping him cope with some of his anxiety issues immensely–by doing interviews in character.
“When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set. That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”
While he doesn’t necessarily put his mental health struggles on the forefront, opening up in the media about suffering from anxiety can have a huge effect on fans of the actor and comedian. The first step towards helping those with mental health disorders is normalizing the stigma of having them in the first place.