Angelina Jolie tends to operate in one of two ways: super private, or full-on trending topic. And this week, the actress, director, and UN ambassador is back in the spotlight.
Jolie appears on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair, getting real about the challenges she’s faced, including her split with Brad Pitt and another mic-drop revelation: the single mom of six is also battling Bell’s palsy.
“I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I’m being smart about my choices, and I’m putting my family first, and I’m in charge of my life and my health.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bell’s palsy—a result of damage to facial nerves—affects 40,000 Americans each year. The disease affects everyone differently: While mild cases may not require treatment and symptoms will go away on their own within two weeks, more serious cases may require steroids to reduce inflammation and swelling.
For Jolie, it was acupuncture that helped. She tells VF that in light of the diagnosis—plus some drier skin and extra gray hairs—she feels more confident than ever. “I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I’m being smart about my choices, and I’m putting my family first, and I’m in charge of my life and my health,” she says. “I think that’s what makes a woman complete.”
Jolie has always been willing to share her health struggles and the tough decisions that come with them. In 2013, she opened up about her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene.
Right now, she says, her focus is on keeping her family happy, healthy, and worry-free. “I do not want my children to be worried about me,” she says. “I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”
Meanwhile, autoimmune diseases are on the rise, particularly among young women—here’s what you need to know. And acupuncture isn’t just beneficial when it comes to ailments like Bell’s palsy—it can also help with injuries and allergies.
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