Gabrielle Union opened up about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the premiere episode of Taraji P. Henson’s new Facebook Watch show Peace of Mind.
The 48-year-old actress admitted that the pandemic has had a negative impact on her mental and emotional health, with the racial unrest that erupted around the country taking a particular toll.
“I thought quarantining was right up my alley — I love silence, I love hunkering down at home,” Union said. However, she experienced unexpected triggers. “But you add in our former president was so rooted in racism and white supremacy and hatred and evil, that he inspired so much of it, we have been in the midst of an onslaught, a daily barrage of the brutalization of black and brown bodies, that we are just taking in every day, all day.”
She also found being in one place was surprisingly unsettling because of the nomadic and traveling lifestyle she’s adopted for decades due to her career. “I have not been home in any kind of consistent way since I have been an adult, so just getting to know my husband, which sounds crazy, I was like ‘Oh every day, every day you’re going to be here, OK ahh yeah I guess this is healthy.’ I just feel a little more naked, exposed...because I am just on Zoom with the therapist and I can hear the household, and the doors open and they’re all like…there is not enough space, you know what I mean, and that kind of worries me sometimes,” she admitted.
The Bad Boys star noted that being in close quarters with Dwyane Wade, whom she’s been married to since 2014, did help clarify the fact that he accepts every part of her. “So you have to find out, ‘do you love me for all of the baggage?’” Union asked herself. “Like there’s so much baggage. You get worried like maybe you have revealed too much and you’re going to scare them away because damaged women aren’t supposed to be loveable.”
Union has been dealing with PTSD since she was 19 when she was raped. She previously detailed the incident in her 2017 memoir We’re Going To Need More Wine.
“During my rape, I floated over my body, I hovered over my body and it wasn’t until the dude asked me to hand him the gun that I came back into myself, [I] tried to kill him,” she told Henson.
Union went on to say that she started therapy less than a week after the incident and has been going ever since, which has been a huge relief.
“Being able to have the language to know what was happening to me,” she continued, “to define the terror that exists to this day in my body, in my spirit, in my soul, to be able to say ‘oh, that’s post-traumatic stress syndrome,’ I need it.”
When her PTSD is triggered, Union experiences a physical reaction. “Usually my right arm starts to feel like it is going numb, and it just feels like a full-body heart attack, the way you would imagine a heart attack, but in your knees, in your legs, in your arms, in your chest, in your eyeballs. Trauma can take so many forms,” she said.
This is not the first time Union has talked about her mental health. In an October interview with Women’s Health, she explained how racism and the global health crisis had sent her PTSD “into overdrive.” She revealed how she copes when feeling triggered
"I break out my emotional fix-me toolkit, and I try to run through all the situations," Union said. "I call it my ‘what's the likelihood of X happening?' method. If I'm fearful about going into a store because I'm anxious about being robbed, I'll make myself feel better by going to one where there will be witnesses to cut down those chances. It's been this way since '92. It's just something I do, second nature."
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