Will Smith health: Hollywood star opens up about being in ‘worst shape of his life’

Will Smith stars in 1993 trailer for Six Degrees of Separation

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Being thrust into the limelight at a young age, the Oscar nominated star fulfilled his dream of always wanting to be famous, but this didn’t come without its hardship. In a tell-all series released earlier this year, Will spoke to his family –including wife Jada Pinkett Smith, and children Willow, Jaden and Trey – about the hardship he has felt during his career and what effect this has had on his mental state.

Within the teaser trailer for the series titled Best Shape of My Life, Will was seen saying: “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life physically, but mentally, I was somewhere else.

“I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself.”

In another, more emotional scene that featured the whole family, Will admitted: “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide.”

Although the moment he was talking about was unspecified, what became clear was Will’s ability to hide his feelings.

An excerpt from his autobiography read: “What you’ve come to understand as Will Smith, the alien-annihilating MC, bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction,”

“A carefully crafted and honed character designed to protect myself, to hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.”

This honest confession by the star comes shortly after he admitted that the coronavirus pandemic led to him being in the “worst shape of his life”, a realisation that made him swap “midnight muffins” for the gym.

According to Medical News Today, mental health refers to the cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being of an individual.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also stresses that being in “peak” mental health is not only about “avoiding” mental health disorders, but also looking after your own wellbeing and happiness.

Mind, a leading mental health charity in the UK explains that mental health problems affect around one in four people every year. These range from the more common problems such as depression and anxiety, to the more complex disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia.

Signs you might have a mental health condition
First and foremost, mental health problems are a common experience, and with a combination of treatments individuals are able to overcome them.

However, it is important to recognise the signs of a mental health condition, in order to help you or someone you know. Mind explains that depression is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time.

Individuals can experience it in differing forms, with the mildest not stopping you from leading a normal life, but making everything just that bit harder. In its most severe form, depression can make individuals feel suicidal.

Common symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

Anxiety on the other hand occurs when individuals start to feel worried, tense or afraid. Similarly to depression, anxiety can develop in different forms. Mild anxiety is common for everyone to feel at times, but strong feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming and take over your life.

According to The Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of anxiety include the following:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.

However, individuals can experience different types of anxiety disorders, all of which have different symptoms. The most common of these is generalised anxiety disorder, which includes persistent and excessive anxiety about activities or events.

Panic disorder on the other hand slightly differs and involves repealed episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear and terror, that culminate in a panic attack.Individuals who experience mental health disorders, no matter what they may be, often find success in therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a popular talking therapy that helps individuals to understand their mental health and why they feel a certain way.

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

Will Smith will be on BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show on Friday, November 26 at 10:35pm.

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