In a recent interview, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson talks about his history of depression
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is basically a top-shelf human being. We know from his frequent (and adorably gushy) Instagram posts that he’s a doting and involved dad who wants to raise his daughters to be strong women. We know he loves a good “cheat day” even though he provides plenty of workout motivation with his posts about the gym alongside those tempting stacks of pancakes. Now, we know something else about the larger-than-life actor.
He battles depression, just like so many of us.
In an interview with The Express, Johnson opens up about living with depression and the scars left by witnessing his mother’s suicide attempt when he was only 15 years old. “I reached a point where I didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere. I was crying constantly,” he says.
Johnson tells the story of his mother’s attempt at taking her own life, shortly after they were evicted from their apartment. “She got out of the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic,” he says. The teenage Johnson watched as cars and trucks swerved to avoid hitting her. “I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road,” Johnson shares. He’s written about it before in a heartbreaking Instagram post.
Not your typical scene on our comedy #ballers, as I cracked a beer open toasting my character’s brother, William who committed suicide. Got me thinkin’ though bout how many of us have been affected by suicide of our friends, family. Struggle and pain is real. We’ve all been there on some level or another. My mom tried to check out when I was 15. 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. 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. Probably best she doesn’t. Shits of a scene to shoot – didn’t like it – but it did reminder 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. We got lucky that day when I was 15 and that ain’t always the case.
“What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is that to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever. Probably best she doesn’t,” says the Jumanji star. After going through that difficult time, injuries ended his dreams of becoming a professional football player. He signed with the Canadian Football League but was released in a year. Then, his girlfriend broke up with him, a time he now calls “my absolute worst.”
But he and his mom’s takeaway after the tough times? “We both healed but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” he said. “We have to help them through it and remind them they are not alone.”
Johnson’s fans had a huge response to the actor opening up about his battle. He tweeted his appreciation and more advice, particularly for men dealing with the “sludge/shit” we go through in life.
Got tons of responses to this. Thank you. We all go thru the sludge/shit and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 2, 2018
“Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone,” he writes.
He even responded to a man who had the courage to share that he too was struggling.
@TheRock Thank you for talking about depression openly, I know it will help a lot of people to see someone so confident that also had issues with it
— Lonesamurai (@RealLonesamurai) April 2, 2018
Hey man I get it. We all go thru the sludge and shit. Stay strong and make sure you’re talking to good people about it. Us men have a tendency to hold it in. No shame in getting help and wanting to be better.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 2, 2018
One Twitter user pointed out how surprising it is to hear that someone with Johnson’s generally happy and strong persona can also suffer from depression — which makes it even more helpful that he’s sharing his truth.
I will be honest, literally the last person on Earth I would suspect to suffer from depression is The Rock. You just seem so motivated and in complete control of your entire life. If there was anyone I thought who would have it all together, it would have to be you. https://t.co/xE6stg4pcz
— Dan Hughes (@danlmantheman) April 2, 2018
Men in particular don’t open up as easily about their struggles with mental illness, depression, and anxiety. If I had to venture a guess as to the reason, it’s probably because our society is still making men feel like they have to appear “strong” and to be honest about their depression could be seen as “weak,” which is exactly what Johnson is alluding to when he tells fellow men they’re not alone. “No shame in getting help and wanting to be better,” he says.
And he couldn’t be more right.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).