Hollywood actress Emma Stone proves to us that a smiling face doesn’t necessarily mean that all is well as she shares the story about her lifelong struggle with anxiety and panic attacks.
In a recent interview for the child mind institute with doctor Harold S. Kopelwicz, the Lala land actress revealed details about her first panic attack experience and how she has several repeats.
Emma Stone talked about the first time she had a panic attack at the age of seven. “After first grade before I went into second grade, I had my first panic attack. It was really, really terrifying and overwhelming,” Stone told the doctor. “I was at a friend’s house, and all of a sudden I was convinced the house was on fire, and it was burning down. I was just sitting in her bedroom, and obviously, the house wasn’t on fire, but there was nothing in me that didn’t think we were going to die.”
Emma has repeats of the attack more often over the next two years, and it made staying in school a nightmare for her. The actress recalled how she would go to the nurse’s office daily in second grade and pretend to be sick so that she could put a call across to her mother and go home.
Stone also shared how she has separation anxiety from her mother who was seated amongst the audience listening as she spoke. She said “I couldn’t go to friends’ houses. As you can see, it’s gotten better. I swear!”
Much later after her first panic attack experience Emma Stone had to go to therapy. The maniac star’s therapist diagnosed Emma with general anxiety and panic disorder, but thankfully he didn’t tell her exactly what she was diagnosed with, which she is grateful for. Doctor Harold made an assessment that being in therapy must have been “embarrassing or shameful” for stone, and she confirmed it. “I am very grateful I didn’t know that I had a disorder,” Emma said. “I wanted to be an actor, and there weren’t a lot of actors who spoke about having panic attacks.”
Emma Stone managed to keep all her anxiety and panic attack experiences within the confines of her home and only shared the experiences with her family members while she was still undergoing therapy. She also mentioned keeping a mini diary which she titled “I am more than my anxiety” where she could draw and write about her experiences, and till date, her mom still keeps the book.
2016 interview with rolling stone actress Emma Stone talked more about her “I am more than my anxiety” diary. Stone said “I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true. And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing—let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs—then it shrinks down and fades away.”
However, Stone has been able to make her challenges a motivation that helps her in her acting career “I also believe there is a lot of empathy when you struggled a lot internally. There is a tendency to want to understand how people around you work or what’s going on internally with them which is great for characters.”
Stone added, “You don’t have to be an actor to overcome anxiety, you don’t have to be a writer to overcome it. You just have to find that thing within you that you are drawn to.”
Emma still has the panic attacks once in a while. According to her, on the day of her interview with Dr. Harold she had an attack in the morning but she has been able to find ways to cope.
The Oscar winner said she sees a therapist and talks to her friends and loved ones when the anxiety creeps in, or when she feels alone.
“sharing and making mistakes is a big trigger of fear for me,” Emma Admitted.
With the gradual increase in mental health awareness around the world, more people are beginning to understand the importance of communication, seeking help, and taking advantage of the option of therapy. Way to go Emma!