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Image Source: Getty Images/Cindy Ord
Gabrielle Union’s lifelong journey with anxiety and PTSD doesn’t take breaks for big events like the Met Gala. (If only we could schedule our mental health issues on convenient, commitment-free days, right?) The actor took to Instagram yesterday to share that sometimes, her anxiety “can turn my anticipation about a party or fun event I’ve been excited about attending (Met Ball) into pure agony.”
The short video features Union in her glamorous Met Gala gown (which had a deeper meaning about the Gilded Age), confidently posing for a pack of photographers until her anxiety (symbolized by husband Dwayne Wade) and triggers (a stylist) make their way to her side. She keeps working and playing to the crowd, but now has to deal with these mental health issues at the same time. In other words, Union can’t pause her life to manage her symptoms — she just has to push through.
It’s not an easy task. Union has “battled PTSD for 30 years,” she writes in the caption, first receiving the diagnosis at age 19 after being raped at gunpoint. She’s lived with anxiety and panic attacks ever since, which “has never been easy,” the 49-year-old writes. “There’s times the anxiety is so bad it shrinks my life. Leaving the house or making a left hand turn at an uncontrolled light can fill me with terror.” In a “Women’s Health” interview in 2020, Union noted that the #MeToo movement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and images of police brutality towards Black people had all triggered her PTSD recently. “There’s just terror in my body,” she said at the time.
Today, Union wants to clarify what anxiety is really like for those who experience it. “It’s not like being nervous,” she explains on Instagram. Everyone handles it differently, she emphasizes, but “[w]hen we tell y’all what we are experiencing, please believe us the 1st time we mention it.” Her post isn’t a plea for anyone “to try to ‘fix me,” Union writes, but a way to tell others with anxiety that “they aren’t alone or ‘being extra.’ I see you, I FEEL you and there is so much love for you,” she says. “Always.”