Gabourey Sidibe has become a powerful voice in Hollywood when it comes to body positivity—and has often opened up about how beauty is all about self-perception. While she's now known for her contagious confidence and her never-give-up attitude (case in point: her incredible response to her Lane Bryant ad), the 34-year-old actress is showing a side of her no one has ever seen before in her new memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare.
Along with revealing that she underwent weight-loss surgery, the Oscar nominee opened up about her struggle with mental health and an eating disorder.
"Here's the thing about therapy and why it's so important," she writes in her memoir. "I love my mom, but there's so much I couldn't talk to her about. I couldn't tell her that I couldn't stop crying and that I hated everything about myself." (Check out People for an excerpt from the audio book.)
"When I first told her I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally. Not because she's a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke," she continued. "How could I not be able to feel better on my own, like her, like her friends, like normal people? So I just kept thinking my sad thoughts—thoughts about dying."
Sidibe goes on to admit that her life took a turn for the worst when she started college. Along with having panic attacks, she gave up on food, sometimes not eating for days at a time.
"Often, when I was too sad to stop crying, I drank a glass of water and ate a slice of bread, and then I threw it up," she writes. "After I did, I wasn't as sad anymore; I finally relaxed. So I never ate anything, until I wanted to throw up—and only when I did could I distract myself from whatever thought was swirling around my head."
It wasn't till much later that Sidibe finally turned to a health care professional who diagnosed her with depression and bulimia after she confessed to having suicidal thoughts, she explains.
"I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me. I'd never run down the entire list before, but as I heard myself, I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option," she writes. "The doctor asked me if I wanted to kill myself. I said, 'Meh, not yet. But when I do, I know how I'll do it.'"
"I wasn't afraid to die, and if there was a button I could've pushed to erase my existence from earth, I would have pushed it because it would have been easier and less messy than offing myself. According to the doctor, that was enough."
Since then, Sidibe has put a lot of effort into managing her mental health by going to therapy regularly and taking antidepressants, she shares in the memoir.
Opening up about personal struggles like mental health is never easy. So Sidibe definitely deserves a huge shout-out for playing her part in removing the stigma surrounding the issue (a cause other celebs like Kristen Bell and Demi Lovato have also been vocal about recently.) Here's to hoping her story strikes a chord with other people with mental health problems and lets them know they're not alone.