What Ryan Reynolds has taught us about living with anxiety

The Deadpool actor has opened about what it's like to live with a mental illness, and inadvertently educated us on some invaluable life lessons along the way.
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Peering into the stardust-filled snow globe that is Hollywood, you’d think Ryan Reynolds is a man who has it all.

Married to his beautiful, A-list wife, Blake Lively, father to two young daughters and proprietor of the kind of bulletproof humour he can wear as tight against his chest as that red Spandex suit, you may not expect that the actor suffers from a mental illness.

Not one to shy behind his dry, sarcastic humour, father-of-two Ryan says that he has experienced anxiety in its entirety.

“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,” he told The New York Times this week ahead of the release of the second installment of Deadpool.

Back in November 2016, the 40-year-old confessed that he experiences anxiety – a term used to group a series of mental health issues that describe excessive and irrational feelings, and sometimes worries, fears and distress that can interfere with our day-to-day lives.

In Ryan’s case, his anxiety was triggered after finally finishing filming his biggest project to date: the first Deadpool.

Despite initially wanting to conceal his experience with anxiety, (Ryan admits hiding behind his sarcastic quips and blunt-force humour), the star’s recent confession has taught us a thing or two about what it’s like living with a mental illness.

1.) Things may appear to be fine, but sometimes they’re not

Upon hanging up his Deadpool boots after wrapping up shooting (and between his hilarious promo-tour appearances), Ryan admits that the pressure, and ultimately his anxiety, continued to build.

“By the time we were in post-production, we’d been to Comic-Con, and people went crazy for it.

“The expectations were eating me alive.”

The doting dad has admitted he hides his anxiety behind his humour.

Behind this smile, Ryan experienced symptoms of anxiety.

2.) Talk to someone – and don’t be afraid to do so

Anxiety is something Ryan says he has lived with since he was a child – something he attributes to his later father, who “wasn’t easy on anyone”.

“I think the anxiety might have started there, trying to find ways to control others by trying to control myself,” he says.

It was this revelation that the actor associates with his recent “nervous breakdown”, which prompted him to seek help from a doctor.

“When [Deadpool] finally ended, I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I literally had the shakes,” he told GQ magazine.

“I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety’.”

Ryan, pictured with his daughter James, his newborn baby girl and wife Blake, was recently inducted into Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

3.) Don’t shut out your loved ones; they can help you, too

While Ryan recognises the fruits of his fame and fortune, he reminds us that stars aren’t immune from feeling the crippling grip of anxiety.

“I say this with the caveat that I completely recognise the ridiculously fortunate position that I am in. But the attention is hard on your nervous system — that might be why I live out in the woods. And I was banging the loudest drum for ‘Deadpool.’ I wasn’t just trying to open it; I was trying to make a cultural phenomenon.”

It was during this turbulent time that he leant on his wife, Blake Lively, for support.

“Blake helped me through that,” Reynolds says. “I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane.”

Ryan says that Blake has been his anchor through his recent struggle with anxiety.

*If you regularly experience chronic stress, consider talking to your health care professional about counselling, or you can contact:

Depression.org.nz – their 24/7 helpline number is: 0800 111 757

Mental Health Foundation

Youthline or free phone 0800 376 633

Lifeline 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

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