Taraji P. Henson Gets Real On Her Struggles With Depression, Anxiety & Its Relation To Menopause

Taraji P. Henson may play one tough cookie as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s hit drama series “Empire,” but the American superstar actress and mum-of-one, is opening up more and more about her struggles with depression and anxiety.

In a recent chat with SELF magazine, a health media brand, Henson said she realised her struggles with depression and anxiety about two years ago when she started having mood swings.

The Empire star added that her anxiety shows up in the form of heart palpitations, sweating, nervousness, feeling helpless and racing thoughts she can’t control. She described her depression as darkness that is “hard to climb out of…”. She said:

“I struggle with depression and anxiety. I would have to say I realised it about two years ago. I noticed the mood swings, like one day I’d be up and the next day I’d be down, feeling like I don’t want to go out in public.

And there would be days that my brain wouldn’t stop racing which I would think of the most worst scenarios in the world which would heighten my anxiety.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’re told to pray it away’ -Hollywood Star, Taraji P. Henson Gets Real On Her Journey To Tackle Her Mental Health Issue

The 49-year-old added that she didn’t realize that some of her mood swings could be related to menopause. The Washington, D.C., native said:

“I would get so low, really, really low, beaten, like never before, ”You may have those days [when] you’re like, ‘Oh, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. I just want to sleep in,’ but you don’t feel heavy. I was just starting to feel heavy a lot, [like] suffocating…. It just came out of nowhere.”

But, after checking in with her therapist, Henson who started a Foundation, named after her late father, to eradicate the stigma around mental healthcare in the African-American community, learned how to cope with and manage those highs and lows. She said further:

“[That confirmation] made me feel better, but now I still have to manage it. That just means talking to my therapist when I feel this way, doing things to get me out of the muck.”

ALSO READ: See Why Hollywood Actress And Mum, Taraji P. Henson, Wants Schools To Include Mental Healthcare In Their Curriculum

Since working with the therapist, Henson has been able to better process grief and trauma.

“I had aligned all my chakras, and I still wanted to headbutt a bitch,” she joked. “The therapy came into play out of necessity… It was [a] time where I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just not feeling like myself anymore,’ and my son was going through his issues with becoming a young black male in America with no dad and no grandad. It was like, ‘Okay, I’m not a professional. We both need help.’”

Now, the “Acrimony” actress is working to help others struggling with mental health issues, especially young children, through her NGO ‘The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation’ launched in 2018. The Foundation is named after her father, who was thought to have suffered from bipolar disorder.

“I hope that one day we can all be free to talk about mental health and be okay with seeking help,” she said.

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