Gillian Anderson tells of her battle with mental health demons and how she beat self-doubt

Stephen Walter
Actress Gillian Anderson has opened up about her mental health - Clara Molden

 

Gillian Anderson, the actress, has told how she has battled mental health problems during her career but was helped to overcome her self-doubt by compiling daily lists of things to be grateful for.

The X-Files star opened up about how she has been receiving therapy since she was 14 years old and how at times she felt so low she would not leave her home.

The 48-year-old actress also fears she might be dyslexic as she struggles to remember things, and has worried about looking into it in case she had the condition.

Actress Gillian Anderson, who starred in the X-Files, says she struggles with her memory - Credit: Clara Molden

Anderson, who plays Lady Mountbatten in Viceroy’s House, a sumptuous period drama set during the last days of the Raj and directed by Gurinder Chadha, said the thought of forgetting her lines is “terrifying”.

Her memory has proved hazy enough in the past that she has forgotten the plots to some of her favourite novels.

Earlier in her career she went as far as hiring a private history tutor to help fill in gaps on topics she didn’t know much about, but described it as a “disaster”.

She told Weekend magazine: “I took notes, blah, blah, blah, but couldn’t remember a thing he taught me. Nothing. I’m not even sure, if you’d asked me the next day, I could have told you what I’d learned.

“You know, even my favourite books, I couldn’t tell you what they were about. It’s always been that way.”

She vowed to get tested for dyslexia, adding: “I’d always been afraid to look into it, because I was afraid that if I found something out, I would think that I couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do.”

The Chicago-born mother-of-three prescribes techniques such as meditation and writing messages to one’s self on Post-it notes to stick about the house as ways of defeating inner worries.

Gillian Anderson as Lady Mountbatten in the new film Viceroy's House, with co-star Hugh Bonneville - Credit:  Pathe UK

She’s now has co-written self-help book with close friend and journalist Jennifer Nadel, called We: A Manifesto For Women Everywhere, which draws on her own experience of low self-esteem.

“There were times when it was really bad. There have been times in my life where I haven’t wanted to leave the house," she said.

Anderson writes a gratitude list every night, which helps control her intolerance of herself and others and settles her down.

And instead of focusing on things she doesn’t like about herself, including any doubts over her body, she tries to concentrate on remembering good things - which is where meditation comes in.

She adds: “All I know is that when I meditate, one goes beyond the physical, and it is possible to tap into a sense of absolute contentment and joy in that place.”

Gesturing to her body, she added: “So if that’s where you’re starting, then actually none of this means anything, really."

The actress as Lady Mountbatten in Viceroy's House - Credit:  Pathe UK

 

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