Kristen Bell Reminds Us That There’s Power in Talking About Anxiety and Depression

There is so much to love about Kristen Bell. Her awesome brand of humor, her intense love of sloths … oh yea, and she’s pretty great on screen, too. The mom of two is, after all, the voice behind one of our favorite Disney characters, Princess Anna, from Frozen. She’s also beloved for her roles in Veronica Mars and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as for narrating Gossip Girl. 

But there’s so much more to why we all love her than just the on-screen characters she’s played. It’s her bubbly personality, her genuine kindness, and the passion she has for anything and everything she does that makes her so relatable.

And that same vivacious spirit you see on the screen is exactly what you get when you sit down to speak with her. I had the chance to sit down with Bell a few years ago myself, prior to the Frozen world premiere in Los Angeles. I’d already secretly wanted to be her best friend before the interview even happened, and once it was through, that only intensified.

And now, Bell is winning my heart (and everyone else’s across the Internet) for a candid new interview, in which she opens up about two things she’s battled her entire life: anxiety and depression.

While speaking with The Off Camera Show’s Sam Jones, Bell got raw, emotional, and incredibly honest:

“I’m extremely co-dependent,” she says. “I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me. That’s part of why I lead with kindness and I compensate by being very bubbly all the time because it really hurts my feelings when I know I’m not liked. And I know that’s not very healthy and I fight it all the time.”

She goes on to admit that she’s been fighting this battle nearly her entire life, and that at 18 years old, her mother even sat her down and shared that her family has a history of anxiety and depression.

“‘There’s a serotonin imbalance in our family line, and it can often be passed from female to female’,” Bell recalls her mother saying.

Thanks to that honest and open conversation with her mother many years ago, Bell says she can now recognize the signs of anxiety and depression within herself, and has found ways to cope with them.

And while Bell’s admission is powerful in and of itself, it also reminds us that anxiety and depression come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve suffered from both for my entire life. And like Bell, the disease runs in my family. But unlike her, I never had the conversation with my mother. We never openly spoke about it with one another, and I wonder whether things would have been different if we had. Of course we knew it existed within one another, but it was considered taboo to talk about in our family.

A couple of moths ago I finally sought therapy to help me with my anxiety. One of the ways that I cope is by writing. It’s helped me to become more open and honest about the subject itself, and to know that I’m not suffering alone. Since I’ve been more open about my anxiety, I’m often being told by others that they would never have known or suspected that I suffer from it.

Similar to Bell, most of my anxiety stems from what others think. And a lot of it also comes from being a mother and having children that I care about and love so deeply. But it’s also because of motherhood that I am more open in my suffering.

Becoming a mother has given me a newfound, unwavering confidence in myself. That doesn’t mean that the anxiety is less — because if anything, it’s multiplied — but I’m more confident in speaking out about it. And that’s all because of my kids. There is high probability that my children will deal with depression or anxiety in their own lifetimes. In being open about it myself, my hope is that my voice will help them feel more comfortable in speaking out about it, too — so they won’t hold it in like I’ve been doing for so long.

Anxiety and depression are often silent, hidden diseases. And maybe that’s no big surprise: We work so hard trying to cover our symptoms up, they can sometimes remain buried for years. But by doing this, we are not helping anyone; we are actually hurting everyone, including ourselves.  Speaking out lets others know that it’s okay to have this disease, but you don’t have to suffer from it alone.

And that, above all else, is why I love that Bell was so open and honest about it.

“In the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever,” she adds in the clip. “But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something. It’s a very interesting double standard that I don’t often have the ability to talk about but I certainly feel no shame about.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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