Taraji B. Henson says her depression would get so bad before she got help that she felt like she was in a “dark cloud.”
“I noticed the mood swings, like, you know, one day I would be up and the next day I would be down, feeling like I don’t want to go out in public, almost agoraphobic,” the 49-year-old “Empire” actress said in a new interview with Self magazine.
“There would be days when my brain wouldn’t stop racing with the worst scenarios in the world, which would heighten my anxiety,” she said. “There was no shame when I started to recognize it. It was like, ‘I have to get some help,’ because I’m the life of the party and when I go dark, I go dark. I don’t want to leave the house.”
Henson decided to seek the help of a therapist, who she found through “Empire” co-star Gabourey Sidibe.
“When you find that right person, oh my God, the sky cracks open,” she said. “It was extremely important for me to find a therapist who is a black woman, just because black women live in a different world than everyone else. Our problems, daily interactions, and expectations are different than most other people, so I wanted a therapist who I could cut through the societal foundation of who I am with, so that we could get to my specific issues.”
Henson also told the magazine that the “strong black woman” trope is a myth, and thinks it’s dangerous.
“There are some times where I feel absolutely helpless,” she said. “That’s human. Everybody feels like that. Just because I’m a black woman, don’t put that strong-superhero thing on me.”
Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after her father, in 2018. The nonprofit aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community.