Former Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller has written a beautiful and heartbreaking piece about the pain he felt over the recent re-surfacing of a meme mocking his weight. In the stunningly written and intimate post, Wentworth also talks about his mental health issues and the toll it took on his life.
As an emotional eater with her fair share of mental health issues, Wentworth’s words struck a real chord with me. I know how it feels to find comfort in food, to binge-eat to the point of feeling physically and emotionally sick. The difference between Wentworth and I, of course, is that no one is papping me as I walk down the street. The Internet doesn’t care what I look like and quite frankly, neither does anyone who matters in my life.
The real beauty in Wentworth’s post is his ability to be vulnerable and show amazing courage and strength all at once. This is a man who found the good in a hurtful situation; who found an inner resilience that maybe he didn’t even know he had. And just like Wentworth Miller, I choose to continue to learn, to grow and to find meaning in the dark times. In the times when I look at myself and can’t bear to see my own reflection, I will think of him and his brave words that have turned an ugly and nasty meme into a sign of hope for himself and everyone else who reads it.
Here is Wentworth’s post:
Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.
This one, however, stands out from the rest.
In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I’ve since written about, spoken about, shared about.
But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.
Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.
I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. These were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favourite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
And I put on weight. Big f–king deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc.
My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.
In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do these pictures.
Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.
Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.
Of myself and others.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. – W.M.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, please contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Black Dog Institute: 9382 2991
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36
Lighthouse Foundation: 9093 7500