Gabrielle Union Says Being Diagnosed with PTSD After Rape at 19 Doesn't 'Define Her Whole Life'
For the second annual installment of The Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign, the organization once again brought together more than three dozen actors, Olympians, authors, comedians, advocates and other influencers to share the advice they would give their younger selves about growing up with a a major affliction.
“I’m here to tell you that I am a PTSD survivor, thriver, bad ass m f—-er,” Union says in a homemade video. “I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint — and I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want it to define my whole life, and it doesn’t have to. Asking for help, needing help doesn’t make you weak or less worthy of love or support or success.”
She adds, “You can literally be anything you want to be. PTSD isn’t a death sentence. You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. There are so many of us out there who are feeling with exactly what you’re dealing with and it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you anything but human.”
Bell, who’s suffered from anxiety and/or depression since she was 18, said she would advise her younger self not to “be fooled by this game of perfection humans play, because Instagram and magazines and TV shows, they strive for a certain aesthetic and everything looks so beautiful.
“People seem like they don’t have any problems but everyone’s human,” she adds.
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“Everyone has problems,” she continues. “Everyone feels yucky on the inside sometimes. You deserve to feel just as beautiful on the days you wear no makeup, the days you don’t shower and the days you feel like you’re depressed. And you have an obligation to take care of yourself from the inside out because that’s how you can truly feel beautiful.”
Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, who heads up the Child Mind Institute campaign, says having stars like Bell and Union talk so honestly about their struggles is impactful for kids.
“By sharing their own personal stories for the second annual #MyYoungerSelf campaign, these actors, athletes, authors and influencers are helping to eradicate the stigma that keeps the 1 in 5 young people who struggle with a mental health or learning disorder from getting help and reaching their potential,” he explained.
“We all know and love these children — if it’s not your son or daughter, it’s a niece or a nephew, or your child’s best friend at school. #MyYoungerSelf represents our society, whether you’re famous or not, coming together to get these kids the help they need.”
For the month of May, which is National Mental Health Awareness Month, the Child Mind Institute will reveal a homemade video and childhood photo featuring a celebrity or mental health advocate, including Lindsey Stirling, Ginger Zee, Charles Schwab, Jessica McCabe, Tim Howard and Adam Grabowski. Visit childmind.org each day to view the latest update.