Evan Rachel Wood is opening up about how years of abuse pushed her to seek help and check into a psychiatric hospital.
In a moving essay for Nylon, Wood, 31, said her wakeup call about her mental health came after a suicide attempt when she was 22.
“Looking back, it was the worst, best thing that ever happened to me,” Wood began.
“It was morning; I felt as though I had been hit by a truck. Then with an almost hysterical acceptance, without thinking, I picked up the phone. It was one of those moments when you have a choice that goes beyond the initial choice you make by calling out for help: You can not die, or you can come back to life,” Wood wrote.
“‘Mom?… It’s me… I just tried to kill myself… I need to go to a hospital,’” Wood said, recounting the call she made to her mother.
“When I said I needed to go to a hospital, I did not mean I needed to go for any physical injuries I may or may not have had. I meant a hospital for my state of mind.”
Wood then explained that her call to her mother and knowing that she soon would be getting the help she needed felt freeing.
“The beautiful thing about being at the bottom is there is nowhere to go but up. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, so nothing I did at that point mattered. I had already proven to myself nothing mattered. So, I may as well surrender.”
When she spoke with her mother again, Wood revealed her mother questioned why she attempted suicide.
“After a moment I said, “I just wanted some space,” Wood wrote.
“My mind at the time was filled with scars and shadows and most importantly, so much shame. I was struggling with PTSD and didn’t know it.”
“My PTSD was caused by multiple rapes and a severely abusive relationship that went on for years,” Wood wrote.
However, living in the public eye forced Wood to hide her pain.
“Getting help for mental illness is not something I can broadcast,” Wood continued.
“So when it came time to find a psychiatric hospital, my first concern — which most people won’t have to worry about — was figuring out a way to get help without anyone finding out, because if they did, any chance I had at rebuilding myself would be severely impaired by the cruelty of strangers.”
After a number of rejections, as many facilities were out of space, Wood and her mother found a private psychiatric hospital.
However, in order to protect her identity, Woods changed her name at the hospital.
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“I felt some relief at choosing this new name. I couldn’t remember what it felt like to not be ‘Evan Rachel Wood’ — so much of my self-worth was wrapped in that.”
“I was scared to find out if people still loved me when I wasn’t something to be desired,” Woods continued.
After being evaluated and prescribed medicine for her anxiety, Wood quickly made friends and adjusted to her new life.
“Everyday I got a little stronger,” Woods wrote.
“When my time was almost up, I felt conflicted about leaving. Of course, you want to get out of there, but it’s the first place where I had felt safe and taken care of for some time.”
“On my last day there, while I was having a cigarette on a bench, the psychiatrist who gave me daily evaluations came over and sat beside me.”
“At the end of our conversation, she leaned over and said, ‘Can I tell you something now that you’re leaving? I didn’t want to mention it before.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ ‘When I was in school, I saw the movie Thirteen, and it made me want to get into this line of work to help people. You’re why I’m here,’” Woods wrote, referring to the coming of age film she starred in.
“I had felt worthless, and like the world was better of without me. But it turned out I had helped myself in a way I never thought was possible. I gave to someone who then gave back to me.”
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Since her stay, Wood says she’s continued going to therapy and has managed to wean herself of medication.
“Depression isn’t a weakness, it’s a sickness. Sometimes a deadly one. And sometimes all people need is to know that they are loved and that others are there for them,” Woods concluded.
Wood’s op-ed comes just under a year after the actress opened up about the sexual assaults she experienced in order to make a change.
The Westworld actress gave emotional testimony in front of a House Judiciary Subcommittee in Washington D.C. to advocate for Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Acts in all 50 states.
During the hearing, the actress said the two rapes happened “a decade ago” and described the abuse she endured from one of her previous boyfriends.
“I struggled with self-harm to the point of two suicide attempts, which landed me in a psychiatric hospital for a short period of time. This was, however, a turning point in my life when I started seeking professional help to deal with my trauma and mental stress,” Wood said. “But others are not so fortunate, and because of this rape is often more than a few minutes of trauma, but slow death.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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