Skai Jackson Opens Up About Her Struggles with Anxiety and How DWTS Has Challenged Her

"The last few years I've dealt with it and not knowing how to get through," the 18-year-old actress said

Former Disney Star Skai Jackson Gives Tips for Getting Rid of Haters & 'Politely' Clappingback
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Skai Jackson is sharing details about her struggles with anxiety.

After Monday night's episode of Dancing with the Stars, the 18-year-old Disney Channel star opened up to PEOPLE about when she first developed her anxiety and how tries to manage it with her booming Hollywood career.

"When I was younger I didn’t really have it. During my teen years I just really started to get anxiety. I would get stage fright when I would do certain speaking engagements and I always would get through them but it was a really nerve-racking and hard thing to do," Jackson said.

"The last few years I’ve dealt with it and not knowing how to get through it. It’s been really hard for me. Doing Dancing with the Stars really challenges that," she added. "I’m trying to break myself out of it in a sense and [I'm] fighting through it."

Thankfully, Jackson doesn't have to face her anxiety alone, telling PEOPLE that she has a constant support system in her friends.

"My friends are my everything. When I feel that anxiety I always call them or text them and they talk me through it," she said. "If it’s really bad I just need to shut my phone off and sometimes just take a nap and chill because I feel like that the best time to really relax my brain. My friends know I deal with a lot of things especially anxiety and they’re always here for me which is amazing."

The former Jessie star also gave her fans a shout-out, saying that they are often a source of comfort for her during times of high anxiety.

"I feel like talking to them and reading comments or anything to interact with them is the best thing ever and it makes me so happy," she said.

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Earlier this month, Jackson earned her first 10 on season 29 of DWTS with a foxtrot set to the tune of John Legend's "Ordinary People" that judge Carrie Ann Inaba described as "sheer perfection."

Jackson dedicated the emotional dance to her late Disney costar, Cameron Boyce, who had epilepsy and died on July 6, 2019, at the age of 20 after suffering a seizure in his sleep.

The young star blew the judges away with her moving performance.

"Skai Jackson, last week I said it wasn't my favorite. This was my absolute favorite dance of the night," said Derek Hough. "I mean, it was just exquisite."

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten. ABC

"I was blown away by that just now," said Inaba, who later added: "First of all, for me, dance is always about the emotion, and I'm sure that Cameron is watching you right now and he is so proud of you. What you did, you were like an angel dancing the most beautiful dance. ... It was just sheer perfection."

Bruno Tonioli made similar comments, calling the dance "stunning."

"It was the embodiment of grace and elegance," he said.

During Monday night's episode, Jackson and her partner, Alan Bersten, performed the cha cha to "Say So" by Dojo Cat ft. Nicki Minaj. The dance didn't go quite as well due to a misstep, but the judges praised her for continuing the dance after making the mistake.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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