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Sheridan Smith opens up about her anxiety and depression: ‘My life was falling apart’

Actress Sheridan Smith has opened up about her experience of anxiety and depression, sharing that her father’s cancer diagnosis in 2016 triggered a struggle with her mental health that resulted in her taking time away from her West End role in Funny Girl.‘My life was falling apart,’ Smith told The Sunday Times. ‘And I didn’t tell anyone.’

Smith’s experience with anxiety and depression had been ongoing for some time, as she’d originally moved to London to work as an actor with no training – and yet over time, her skills resulted in her being in some of the most high-profile television programmes and theatre shows of the past few years. ‘I never used to get that nervous when I was younger,’ she said. ‘I was just wide-eyed, from up north, enjoying it all, a jobbing actor doing Two Pints, having a laugh.’ Smith starred in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps from 2001 to 2009, and also had a prominent role in BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, as well as Benidorm and Jonathan Creek.

In 2009, she took on the role of Elle Woods in the West End musical production of Legally Blonde. ‘It was Legally Blonde that changed everything — it was the first time I’d been the lead in a musical, and it did incredibly well,’ Smith recalled.

‘Then things started to go to another level, which I wasn’t… Suddenly I started suffering from anxiety. I’m there on the set [of Quartet] with Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, for God’s sake, and I was really anxious.

‘Things shift subtly,’ she continued. ‘There’s more pressure to deliver… You’re constantly worrying that you’re not going to be as good as people think you should be.’ MORE: 6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEEN ABOUT ANXIETY[2]

Smith was reluctant to open up about her issues at the time due to her prominent career. “All I could imagine was people thinking, ‘You should be grateful. Get over yourself.’ But when you have that degree of anxiety, you can’t just pull yourself together and you can’t explain it,” she said. ‘I didn’t want to talk about it at the time, because I just thought that’s exactly what people would say — ‘What have you got to be upset about?’ And I was totally grateful, of course I was.

‘But at the same time, I was totally terrified that I was going to come unstuck, that I couldn’t hold these feelings of insecurity in much longer without it coming to a head. Which it did last year.’ ‘My dad getting cancer triggered it, but it had been a long time coming,’ she concluded. ‘Things have been weird for years.’

After taking time to get treatment for and recover from her stress, Smith returned to Funny Girl and continues to wow critics with her triumphant performances – much like the one seen on last week’s Strictly Come Dancing, in fact. She will also be making her first foray into the music industry later this year with a debut album.

Sheridan: The Album is out on November 3.

Readers affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans free on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Via Digital Spy[3] (Images: Getty) Like this?

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References

  1. ^ The Sunday Times (www.thetimes.co.uk)
  2. ^ MORE: 6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEEN ABOUT ANXIETY (www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk)
  3. ^ Via Digital Spy (www.digitalspy.com)

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