Gillian Anderson on Finally Finding Peace After Life-Long Battle with Anxiety

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As FBI agent Dana Scully on The X-Files, Gillian Anderson faced many foes. In fact, she’s been chased by the flukeman, the beggar man, aliens, and even the Great Mutato. She’s contended with soul eaters, bark people, a parasitic slug, and even hallucinogenic fungus.

But the monsters Anderson battled on The X-Files in the late ’90s were nothing compared to those she fought within. They paled in comparison to the monsters Anderson fought behind closed doors.

Because, as Anderson revealed in recent interview with The Guardian — and in her recently released a book, We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, co-written with Jennifer Nadel — the 48-year-old actress has been struggling with mental illness for most of her life. In fact, Anderson entered therapy for anxiety when she was just 14 years old.

“There were times when it was really bad,” Anderson told The Guardian. “There have been times in my life where I haven’t wanted to leave the house.”

Of course, Anderson’s sentiment is one that many who are struggling with mental health issues can (and will) relate to. I started going to therapy myself when I was just a year older than Anderson, and I have spent many days over the last 18 years fighting this exact same feeling. Some days, I struggled just to find the strength and willpower to simply leave my freakin’ bed.

But thankfully, I — like Anderson — have found a “routine” that works for me: I run, I talk, I meditate, and I take medication.

However, mental health issues vary, as do their treatments, and Anderson’s mental health journey looks different than mine. In fact, the author, actress, activist, and mother of three has developed numerous coping strategies to help her deal with her mental health issues, including pacing and gratitude.

As she shared with The Guardian:

“I’ve definitely deliberately slowed down. Because I kept hearing myself say, ‘I’ve got to slow down, I’ve got to slow down, I’ve got to slow down.’ I must have said that for 10 years, or maybe even 20 years. I was just sick and tired of hearing myself … [and] I do a gratitude list every night.”

Anderson also uses meditation and affirmations to help her stay in a positive mindset:

“The only thing that really matters in terms of our peace of mind is our peace of mind itself, and how we react to things. All I know is that when I meditate, one goes beyond the physical, and it is possible to tap into a sense of absolute contentment and joy in that place.”

However, regardless of what you struggle with — be it addiction, mental illness, body image issues, or low self-esteem — Anderson reminds us that overcoming our own obstacles can only come with acceptance.

“Well, there’s an opportunity for fear around every corner, fear of the future, fear of what if,” she explains. “But the acceptance of wherever we are, whoever we are, is freedom.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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