Depression is one thing; shame is another. And Kristen Bell wants to make sure those two things stay separate.
In a recent YouTube interview the Frozen star was extremely frank—the latest in a recent string of refreshingly honest celebrities—about the depression treatment she began at a young age and how it has affected her life. Most importantly, she wants to raise awareness about what it’s really like to live with depression—and the baggage that comes with it.
“If you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever,” she tells Sam Jones, host of YouTube show Off Camera.
Well said, Kristen! Here are 4 more lessons we learned about depression from the star.
1. Bubbly people can have depression too
While Bell admits that she was popular in high school, she confessed she was constantly changing herself to fit in and get along with her friends. “I’m extremely co-dependent,” Bell explains. “I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me. That’s part of why I lead with kindness and I compensate by being very bubbly all the time, because it really hurts my feelings when I know I’m not liked. And I know that’s not very healthy, and I fight it all the time.”
2. Depression can manifest in different ways
Those who may not fully understand the illness may assume that depression just feels like sadness or despair. But Bell’s descriptions of depression may make it more relatable than people realize. She credits her mother with starting that conversation about those different feelings early on, telling Bell: “If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, if you feel like there is no sunlight around you, or you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here’s how you can help yourself.”
3. Depression can run in families
Bell, to the shock of her interviewer, explained how her grandmother was one of the first patients to try electric shock therapy after she locked herself in her room and continued to binge-drink, due to the effects of depression. Then, when her mom grew up and became a nurse, “she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself,” leading her to discover the serotonin imbalance she had—and teaching Bell about it when she was 18.
4. It’s important to have an open dialogue
While Bell explains that the reason this may be the first anyone’s heard of her dealings with depression, she certainly has no shame about it and it’s thanks to her mother for opening that conversation up early on. “I’m so grateful for [the open and honest dialogue] because you have to be able to cope with it,” she explains. “But I do a lot of work [to help], I do a lot of introspective work and check in with myself.”
Other things that can contribute to better mental health? Try incorporating these mood-boosting foods into your diet, getting a good night’s sleep every night, and doing a quick meditation before hitting the running path.