Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson gets vulnerable about depression and suicide

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Presents Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic-Con on Saturday, October 28, 2017
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson urged his followers to open up about their mental health in a recent tweet. (Image: Rich Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/GettyImages)

At a press junket for his new film, "Rampage," Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson opened up about his technique of choice when dealing with stress and sadness: a good sweat sesh.

"My kneejerk reaction to sadness is some sort of action," Johnson said in an interview with journalist Xilla Valentine. "I gotta hit the gym (...) Let me sweat, and let me grind, and let me get in, and that way I can not think about the shit that's making me sad," he added.

Johnson also recently urged his followers to open up about their mental health in a heartfelt tweet. The actor shared an article detailing his family’s history of mental illness in hopes of showing his fans that they’re not alone.

“Got tons of responses to this. Thank you,” he writes. “We all go thru the sludge/sh*t and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it, but the key is to not be afraid to open up.”

The 45-year-old actor added that men in particular have trouble discussing their mental health. “Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone,” he writes.

The Fox News story covers an Instagram post Johnson shared back in February about his mother, who attempted suicide when he was 15-years-old.

“She got outta the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic. Big rigs and cars swerving outta the way not to hit her,” he captions the post. “I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road. What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is, to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever.”

In the photo, Johnson can be seen shooting an emotional scene from the HBO show “Ballers,” which he says reminded him that “we always gotta do our best to really pay attention when people are in pain. Help ’em thru it, get ’em talkin’ about the struggle and remind ’em that they’re not alone.”

A post shared by therock (@therock) on

Johnson discussed his own battle with depression in a 2015 YouTube video posted by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel. According to a description that accompanies the video, the former college football player became depressed at age 23 after he was passed over by the NFL and later cut from his team in the Canadian Football League. He was living with his parents in a small apartment at the time.

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone,” Johnson explains. “You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it. And oftentimes — it happens — you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble. And I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK. It’ll be OK.’ So, I wish I knew that.”

Happily, Johnson doesn’t have to worry about feeling alone anymore, as evidenced by the many people who responded to his tweet with support, including video game journalist Jared Petty and professional ice-hockey player Kyle Okposo.

Other male celebrities have also spoken up recently about their struggles with mental health, including NBA All-Star Kevin Love, who penned an essay describing his experience with panic attacks. And Jay-Z, one of the most prolific entertainers in the world, revealed late last year that therapy helped him to grow and heal leading up to the release of his album “4:44.”

If you think you may be struggling with depression or other mental health issues and are interested in learning more about therapy, you can check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website to locate a treatment service near you, or call the agency’s referral hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You can also search online for other advocacy groups that offer information on finding a practitioner, such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Mental Health America.

Johnson’s message that none of us are alone in our battles against mental health is an important one, especially for men. We hope that his words resonate with those who need them and that celebrities continue to prove that vulnerability is a powerful show of strength.

What Do YOU Think?

Do celebrities have an impact on your physical and mental health habits? How can we help to destigmatize the conversation about mental health? Share in the comments section.

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