Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner Reveals She Has Depression: 'I Used to Think About Suicide a Lot'
Sophie Turner credits Joe Jonas with helping her see her worth: "When someone tells you they love you every day ... I think it makes you love yourself a bit more"
Sophie Turner is getting candid about her mental health struggles.
In a lengthy and at times emotional interview with Dr. Phil McGraw on his podcast, Phil in the Blanks, the Game of Thrones star opened up about her battle with depression, which she believes was partly catalyzed by the attention she received growing up in the public eye.
“Since I was really young, we’ve had a whole mental health thing in my family,” said Turner, 22. “My immediate family, and myself, as well. I’ve suffered with depression for about five or six years now.”
“It’s weird. I say I wasn’t very depressed when I was younger, but I used to think about suicide a lot when I was younger,” she continued. “I don’t know why though. Maybe it’s just a weird fascination I used to have, but yeah, I used to think about it. I don’t think I ever would have gone through with it.”
Turner said she began struggling with depression when she was about 17, saying, “all of a sudden it just kind of hit me.”
“My friends were all going to university and I was working. But I was still living at my parents’ house, so I felt very alone,” she explained. “It only started to go downhill when I started to hit puberty and I was gaining weight. Then there was the social media scrutiny and everything — that was when it kind of hit me.”
Turner said she was seriously affected by negative comments she would read about herself as trolls criticized everything from her physical appearance to her acting skills.
“You see 10 great comments and you ignore them, but one negative comment and it just like, throws you off,” she said. “People used to write, ‘Damn, Sansa gained 10 lbs.,’ or ‘Sansa needs to lose 10 lbs.’ It was just a lot of weight comments. Or I would have spotty skin because I was a teenager and that’s normal, but I used to get a lot of comments about my skin and my weight and how I wasn’t a good actress.”
“I would just believe it,” she admitted. “I would just say, ‘Yeah, I am spotty, I am fat, I am a bad actress.’ I just believed it.”
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It started to affect her ability to work, the actress said.
“I’d get them to tighten my corset a lot. I just got very, very self-conscious. I would be concerned about angles, I’d be concerned about my face,” she said. “It would just affect me creatively and I couldn’t be true to the character because I was just so worried about Sophie.”
The actress began to withdraw from everyone around her and said her “biggest challenge” became “getting out of bed and getting out of the house.”
“I had no motivation to do anything or go out. Even with my best friends, I wouldn’t want to see them,” she said. “I just would cry and cry and cry over just getting changed and putting on clothes and be like, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t go outside. I have nothing that I want to do.'”
Turner said she and costar Maisie Williams, who plays her on-screen sister Arya Stark, wound up isolating themselves together.
“She’s just a year younger than me and she and I were growing up together,” Turner said. “She was my best friend and she was the only one that I really told about all of it.”
“Maisie and I used to do it together,” she continued. “Being friends with each other was quite destructive because we were going through the same thing, so we used to get home from set, go to a little supermarket across the road and just buy food and just buy food and go back to our room and eat it in bed. We never socialized, for a couple of years. We didn’t socialize with anyone but ourselves.”
“I feel much better. I’ve been doing therapy at CAST centers, actually. I’m on medication,” she said. “I love myself now, or more than I used to, I think. I don’t think I loved myself at all. But I’m now with someone that makes me realize that I do have some redeeming qualities, I suppose.”
“When someone tells you they love you every day, it makes you really think about why that is and I think it makes you love yourself a bit more,” she added. “So yeah, I love myself.”
She also said she tries not to read comments about herself on social media.
“I don’t let people tag me in photos on Instagram and I try not to read comments on my pictures or on Twitter,” she said. “Sometimes I do. Sometimes I have a cheat.”
“It still does [affect me],” she admitted. “It’s still very sensitive to me, but not as much as it used to be. Because I don’t believe those things anymore about myself.”
Turner said she’s also put her career on hold to continue prioritizing her wellbeing.
“I actually am still on my break,” she said. “I took a break off of work to focus on my mental health because I thought it was important. So I’m still on that.”
When McGraw commended her for being so transparent about her mental health issues, pointing out that she could help save lives, Turner began to cry.
“That is absolutely what I hope,” she said. “That’s the payoff that I would like, for people to not feel so alone and to feel encouraged to talk to someone about it.”
Game of Thrones airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on HBO.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.