Chad Michael Murray Opens Up About Anxiety Struggles at Height of ‘One Tree Hill’ Fame

Chad Michael Murray is opening up about his private struggles with anxiety at the height of fame.

In the 2000s, Murray starred in Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill and played the romantic lead in A Cinderella Story and the Lindsay Lohan-, Jamie Lee Curtis-starrer Freaky Friday. In a new The Cut profile, the actor shared that, at the time, he was “far more fragile than I ever put on.”

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“Everyone starts telling you ‘Yes’,” he said. “But I was walking around with a really pained heart.”

He recalled a moment when he was 23 years old, during which he had an event in Miami but couldn’t leave his hotel room. “The world felt like it was closing in; I was having anxiety attacks,” he explained in what The Cut says was the beginning of Murray’s experience with agoraphobia, or a fear of being in a place or situation where escape might be difficult, which he currently manages living with. The timing coincided with his divorce from his One Tree Hill co-star Sophia Bush; the former couple married in April 2005 and divorced five months later.

Murray shared that when he turned 25, he found himself at a crossroads in his career. “I woke up and felt unsettled. I didn’t like the direction that I was going in my life,” he noted. The actor, who grew up religious, decided to turn to religion again after putting his faith aside in Hollywood.

“I went to church, and I got a tattoo of a cross on my left wrist, and I was like, I’m going to move myself in faith,” he remembered. Murray credits a combination of therapy and religion for his personal growth, as well as turning to hobbies like painting and reading, which led to his interest in writing.

Murray published the graphic novel Everlast in 2011 and teamed up with New York Times best-selling author Heather Graham to pen the romantic thriller American Drifter in 2017. He told the outlet that he would write a third novel “in a heartbeat.”

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