'Westworld' star Evan Rachel Wood opens up about suicide attempt, mental illness

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(NEW YORK) -- In a very raw and personal essay, Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood opened up about her struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, calling mental illness one of the "biggest lies in society today."

"Because we can't see depression, it's easier to write off. It's easier for people to put a negative stereotype on you," she wrote in a column for Nylon magazine.

Instead, Wood stressed that a broken arm and a bout of depression are both very real, very traumatizing events in a person's life, though one can be seen and the other cannot. Then the acclaimed actress got candid like never before.

"When I was 22, I willingly checked myself into a psychiatric hospital, and I have absolutely no shame about it," she wrote. "Looking back, it was the worst, best thing that ever happened to me."

Wood explained that after not sleeping or eating in three days and hitting an absolute low point, she called her mother and said, "Mom?... It's me... I just tried to kill myself... I need to go to a hospital."

This was the first time she had asked for help.

"The beautiful thing about being at the bottom is there is nowhere to go but up," she said. "I had to be vulnerable and give up some control. I had to put my shame and my pride aside."

Wood said she was struggling from mental illness and PTSD after "multiple rapes and a severely abusive relationship that went on for years."

"I was afraid to be alone, but I also couldn't be around people. I could barely leave my own house. I was too afraid to go outside. I couldn't sleep because every little noise was deafening. I was defensive, I was impulsive, and I had no healthy coping mechanisms yet. I lost friends. I lost job opportunities," she shared.

The now 31-year-old actress explained that some of the choices she made almost a decade ago were really a cry for help.

"I wasn't crazy, and I didn't need to be kicked while I was down -- I needed help. I needed understanding. I needed to feel unconditional love. I needed to not be judged," she said.

After she started getting help, Wood said she "was so relieved to feel safe. To feel taken care of, and to feel like no one could find me and hurt me."

She eloquently described the experience of letting go, meeting new people while in the hospital and finally accepting help and love.

"We were incredibly loving and empathetic to each other," she wrote, adding that sharing her story made her feel validated and that "it was a great burden lifted."

The actress slowly started to grow stronger both physically and mentally, and eventually started "to feel like me again."

Now, years later, Wood continues with therapy but still struggles with PTSD.

"But I know that I will get through it. I have better tools now to get through what seem like the impossible times, and most importantly, I know my worth," she said. "Depression isn't 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. They may not take your hand right away, but knowing it's there could save their life one day. Or who knows, you might help save your own."

Anyone in crisis, or who knows someone in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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