Zachary Levi Opens Up About Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts: 'All I Saw Was Doom and Gloom'

"The truth is, we're all messed up, but it doesn't mean that we're broken beyond repair ... It just means that we all have healing that we need to do," Zachary Levi tells PEOPLE of his struggles with mental illness

zachary levi
Zachary Levi. Photo: John Russo

Zachary Levi is sharing his vulnerable side in a very powerful way.

Ahead of the release of his first memoir Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others (out June 28), the 41-year-old actor opened up to PEOPLE about his mental health struggles, overcoming suicidal thoughts and eventually finding peace.

"Anybody looking from the outside might think, 'This guy's stoked. He's been a lead on a TV show, he's done Broadway and this and that—he's checked off a lot of boxes,' " Levi tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.

But, as he reveals in his new memoir, Levi — who rose to fame as goofy spy Chuck Bartowski on the NBC drama Chuck in 2007 and suited up as a superhero in the film Shazam! in 2019 — has privately struggled with personal demons during his time in the spotlight.

"I did not see reality correctly," he says. "All I saw was doom and gloom, and I couldn't find myself or find my way out of it."

Zachary Levi attends the Los Angeles premiere of Lionsgate's "American Underdog" at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 15, 2021 in Hollywood, California.
Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

He hopes opening up about his battle with depression and suicidal thoughts will help others in pain.

"If I do nothing else in this world, I want people to understand that they are loved, that they are worthy of love and that they are worthy of investing in themselves," he says.

Levi's struggles started at a young age. As a child he was abused by his mother and was "relentlessly bullied" for being the "nerdy kid." Later, he says, he turned to sex, drugs and booze to cope — which eventually led to a three-week stint of "intensive, life-changing" therapy at the age of 37.

"The truth is, we're all messed up," says Levi. "But it doesn't mean that we're broken beyond repair. It just means that we all have healing that we need to do."

Last week, Levi got candid about what readers can expect from his memoir during an appearance on Elizabeth Vargas' Heart of the Matter podcast.

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"I've struggled with this stuff most of my life. I didn't realize that I was struggling with these things until I was 37, about five years ago and I had a complete mental breakdown," Levi said in the episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"The irony is that booze can give you this temporary relief, but then the next day amplifies that anxiety tenfold," he added. "So, then you're running back to get more and it just becomes this vicious cycle."

Today, Levi's recovery remains a work in progress, but exposing his vulnerable side in his book has given him unprecedented hope.

"I found the other side, and it's vibrant and amazing," he tells PEOPLE. "It doesn't mean that I don't have a lot more healing to do in my life. It doesn't mean thatI won't still struggle with moments and things that require more therapy. But I know life is far more worth living and fighting for now that I've fought through that darkness."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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