During her roller-coaster time in the Hollywood limelight, Kristen Stewart has certainly been through a lot personally and professionally — ever since hitting it big as the wide-eyed Bella Swan in the Twilight franchise, she has been bombarded with praise and criticism in equal measure, with the media’s unflinching glare often skewed towards her private life.
And it hasn’t been easy for the young twenty-something. In recent years, as well as having to deal with unwarranted attacks on her personal life and her relationships, the actress has admitted to being forced to deal with crippling anxiety and even obsessive compulsive disorder.
And yet, instead of cowering away, K-Stew has been brave enough to speak out, becoming a guiding light to others facing similar predicaments and discrimination. Ahead of the release of her upcoming Woody Allen-directed movie Café Society, here’s a run-down of what the actress has said about mental illness, fame and coming out:
On battling crippling anxiety
Kristen Stewart will be gracing September’s issue of , where she has perhaps given her most candid interview to date about her issues with mental illness in the past. In particular, she lent emphasis to how exactly her anxiety affected her emotionally and physically over the years, saying:
“I went through so much stress and periods of strife. I would have panic attacks…I literally always had a stomach ache. And I was a control freak and I couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen in a given situation, so I’d be like, ‘Maybe I’m going to get sick’… It’s kind of remarkable.”
A dark time in her life, she has since managed to somewhat overcome her anxiety disorder, K-Stew also admitted:
“I just grew out of it, but that’s not to say I don’t get worried.”
Although she no longer struggles with anxiety that makes her sick to her stomach, her frankness once again brings much-needed attention to a mental health issue that is often swept under the carpet as a mere character deficiency. In speaking about it, it helps obliterate the severe stigma and shame associated with anxiety and that is a very important thing indeed.
After all, one in five American adults will suffer form a mental health issue each year.
On the intense pressures of fame
Growing up in the limelight is never easy, and like many celebrities before her, Kristen has also been honest about the impact of her career on her own little world. For many, the idea of fame is glamorous (a dream come true in fact!) yet her words reiterate that while yes, it brings wealth and success, the downsides can sometimes be irreversibly destructive. Way back in 2010, she explained as to why:
“Your little persona is made up of all the places that people have seen you and what has been said about you, and usually the places that I am are so overwhelming in the moment and fleeting for me — like on second where I’ve said something stupid, that’s me, forever.”
“What you don’t see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction. All you see is an actor or a celebrity lit up but a flash. A lot of the time I can’t handle it. It’s f**ked. I never expected that this would be my life.”
So, for all those continuing to judge Kristen for being “bad tempered” or “moody” in the past, just think, how would you deal with being persistently goaded by cutting tabloids and the vicious paparazzi?
‘It’s like I’ve been cast in a comic book’
Most recently, Kristen even disagreed with her Café Society director Woody Allen, who controversially said that the invasions of privacy that famous people undergo aren’t “life-threatening” and that the lavish lifestyles always “outweigh the downsides.” To this Kristen stuck a middle finger up in the air and had this to say:
“Woody is 80-years-old and was famous at a very different time. We’ve had entirely different experiences with fame, and the way we consume the reality show that is the entertainment industry. It’s like I’ve been cast in a comic book as a character that is fully developed by everyone but me.”
On her struggles with OCD
Another issue that the actress revealing in the most recent Elle interview was that she suffers with obsessive compulsive disorder, a mental illness which sees people feeling the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines and fulfil particular thoughts and urges.
Kristen recently explained her relationship with the condition in detail:
“As I am getting older I’m going into my OCD. If things are a mess, I feel like I have lost everything. So I procrastinate by tidying, which is so stupid. I say to myself, ‘Just do what you need to do. If you want to write something, if you need to get a thought out, if you need to call someone about something creative, do it now! You don’t need to organise your desk first.'”
‘I realised that the fear was death’
Thankfully, she’s gradually learned to prevent the OCD from taking over her life, admitting:
“I changed, that’s the thing – at a certain time point I realised that the fear was death, but I had gone through so much that did not kill me… sorry, I know that sounds dramatic … I realise the anxiety just ran out. I didn’t have the energy to do that anymore.”
On the pressures of coming out
Finally, speaking to last year, Kristen also cast a light on her own sexual orientation, something that has been providing ample fodder to the prying media for years. And in addressing it, she did the ultimate bad-ass thing by simply reiterating the defiance of all labels. After all, in her mind, what difference did it make if someone was to come out gay or straight in the industry?
In an address to the constant speculation about whether she was dating a woman or not, she initially smacked all rumors out of the ballpark by saying:
“Google me, I’m not hiding. If you feel like you really want to define yourself, and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it. But I am an actress, man. I live in the fucking ambiguity of this life and I love it. I don’t feel like it would be true for me to be like, ‘I’m coming out!’ No, I do a job. Until I decide that I’m starting a foundation or that I have some perspective or opinion that other people should be receiving… I don’t. I’m just a kid making movies.”
‘I can feel again’
Yet more recently, Kristen has warmed to being slightly more open about her romantic life. So much so that in recent months, she’s finally embraced the label of “girlfriend.” Notably, she revealed for the first time that she was dating her long-time love Alicia Cargile:
“Right now I’m just really in love with my girlfriend. We’ve broken up a couple of times and gotten back together, and this time I was like, ‘Finally, I can feel again.'”
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As for what made her change her mind about being so open about her relationship, she added:
“When I was dating a guy I was hiding everything that I did because everything personal felt like it was immediately trivialised, so I didn’t like it. We were turned into these characters and placed into this ridiculous comic book. But then it changed when I started dating a girl. I was like, ‘Actually, to hide this provides the implication that I’m not down with it or I’m ashamed of it, so I had to alter how I approached being in public. It opened my life up and I’m so much happier.'”
And we couldn’t be more pleased with Kristen’s newfound happiness and the fact that she gives zero shits about what anyone else may have to say. After almost two decades in the public eye, it must be a huge relief to be able to lay your cards out unashamed and be honest about yourself and your relationships.
Keep it coming, K-Stew!
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