We've always loved Gabourey Sidibe for the way she doesn't shy away from uncomfortable but important topics. She keeps it real — and in her new memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, the 33-year-old actress continues to do just that, sharing with us the story of her unconventional path to making it big in Hollywood.
But Sidibe also uses her new book to give us an inside look at her personal struggles with mental illness — an incredibly intimate and private part of her life that she says even her own mother couldn't understand at first.
"When I first told [my mom] I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally," Sidibe writes in her book. "Not because she's a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke. 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's depression worsened when she went to college. She suffered frequent panic attacks and even stopped eating for days at a time. When she did eat, she would purge her food immediately — something she says she used as a distraction when she was feeling her worst.
I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option.
Eventually, though, Sidibe sought out treatment, during which she was diagnosed with bulimia and depression and prescribed an antidepressant. She began seeing a therapist regularly, which she now says was crucial for her recovery.
"I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me," Sidibe writes. "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."
Today, Sidibe told People she no longer thinks about throwing up (something that she did in connection to her depression, not in an effort to lose weight, she explains), and she continues to manage her mental illness with therapy and self-love.
"I just accepted depression as something that's part of my anatomy; it's part of my chemistry, it's part of my biology," Sidibe told People. "When it's too big for me to just turn around on my own, I see a therapist. I see a therapist anyway. We all should see a therapist. If only for the hour a week that you can talk about yourself and not worry about monopolizing the conversation? F***ing do it, it's worth it!"
You can find Gabourey Sidibe's memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, on Amazon.