Speaking to E! News, the wrestler turned actor got candid about feeling pressure, as a man, to keep his feelings under wraps.
"I grew up an only child, and a dude," the 49-year-old star told the outlet. And you know, it's not in our nature to just talk about it because it makes us feel vulnerable. We don't want to feel vulnerable. It makes us feel weak, we shouldn't feel weak. We should have our s*** together. But that's not life."
Because of his resistance to open up about what he was going through, Johnson felt helpless when he experienced what he calls his "first bout of depression" in 1990. The Black Adam star has previously shared that his mental health took a blow when injuries disrupted his college football career; he later entered another period of depression in the mid-'90s after being cut from his Canadian Football League team and going through a breakup.
"I didn't know what it was," he told E! of experiencing depression for the first time. "I just felt like, 'Man, I feel like s***. I don't want to do anything.'"
Johnson has since realized that getting "through the sludge of things" and finding success requires confronting those feelings, talking through them and seeking help. It's a message he's committed to sharing on the NBC series inspired by his life, Young Rock. Last year the TV show drew rave reviews for featuring the mental health struggles a young Johnson experienced, with the actor telling viewers, "If you're going through it and you're struggling and you're depressed, you're not alone, and it's OK to ask for help. Asking for help isn't a weakness. Asking for help is actually our superpower."
"The most touching feedback that I consistently received has been our openness to talk about mental health," Johnson told E! of his work on the show.
Off the set, Johnson is also sharing the importance of having conversations about mental health with his three daughters: Simone, 20, from his first marriage to producing partner Dany Garcia, and Jasmine, 6, and Tiana, 3, whom he shares with wife Lauren Hashian. Though he admits that he still acts "like a kid sometimes," the Jumanji star notes that he's now experiencing fatherhood with a "different energy" in his 40s.
"I can't speak for all dudes, but for me, when you're in your 20s you're still a baby, still a kid," he said. "When you're in your 30s, you're still trying to figure stuff out. If you get lucky, maybe you'll figure stuff out in your 40s."
Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.