• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Kristen Bell talks couples therapy, how Dax Shepard helps her through mental health struggles

Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Kristen Bell, who has been a vocal advocate for mental health awareness, is drawing back the curtain to share how she and husband Dax Shepard have been helping each other through difficult times during the pandemic.

“I know that I present someone who is very bubbly and happy all the time, and a lot of the time I am, because I have really good tools,” Bell, 40, told Self in an interview published Monday. “But there are definitely days when the alarm goes off and I go, ‘No, I’m staying right here. Nothing’s worth it. … I’m just going to stay in this cocoon because I need to; because I feel very, very, very vulnerable.’”

Bell said she has dealt with anxiety and depression since she was 18, exacerbated by the challenges of COVID-19.

It’s Mental Health Awareness month: How to treat yourself with some self-care

“I have trouble distinguishing between my emotions and someone else’s emotions, and that’s not a compliment to myself. That’s a very dangerous thing to toy with,” she said, noting that the deluge of bad news prompted a “mental zone that wasn’t healthy for my family to be around.”

Enter: Shepard, who gave her some tough love that was initially difficult to take: " 'Hey, real quick, are you helping anyone right now by sitting and crying in your bed, or are you just being self-indulgent?' " she recalled him saying. " 'Either get up and donate money or donate your time or do something to help, or take that story in, give it some love, and come out here and be a good mom and a good wife and a good friend and live your life in honor of the suffering that happens in the world.' "

Kristen Bell shared how her husband Dax Shepard has helped her navigate mental health struggles prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristen Bell shared how her husband Dax Shepard has helped her navigate mental health struggles prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"How dare you?" she said at first, but knew it was was ultimately what she needed to hear. The conversation prompted her to donate to No Kid Hungry and give blood to the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center.

Bell tipped her hat to Shepard as someone who "elevates vulnerability to an obsessive level." The two enrolled in couples therapy in early 2020 after feeling like they were "just at each other’s throats," and faced hardships again last fall when Shepard, who had been sober from alcohol and cocaine for 16 years, relapsed with prescription pain pills following a motorcycle accident.

More: Dax Shepard says he's 'grateful' but conflicted over fans' response to his recent relapse

Shepard has since been open about his dedication to getting back on track and his openness about sharing what happened with the public and with his and Bell's young daughters, 8-year-old Lincoln and 6-year-old Delta.

"If we’re going to talk about who’s forced who to grow, I will give him the credit,” Bell said of her husband. “He’s just good at trying, and that’s all you can ask of anyone. No one’s perfect. He's proven to me that he is committed to evolving and he loves personal growth.”

'First look for sameness': Kristen Bell's new children's book urges kids, adults to focus on commonality

Mental health check tips

For others who may be struggling, mental health experts suggest everyone should perform regular mental health checks to assess their own well-being – no need to wait until things get bad. Below are some ways you can check in with your own mental health:

  • Find someplace quiet: When multi-tasking is the norm, it can be hard to listen to what our brains are telling us when we're working, caring for others or distracted.

  • Start with the big picture: Are you struggling to fulfill your everyday tasks? That could be a sign things are off track.

  • Look at your feelings and behaviors: Have you noticed a change in how you react to others or your own actions? Are you catastrophizing more than usual? Are you avoiding people?

  • Look at your body: How are you sleeping and eating? Are you grinding your teeth or noticing an increase in muscle tension in your neck or shoulders? Are you being active the way you usually are?

People should do these check-ins even when they aren't struggling. It's much easier to prevent a crisis then it is to climb out of one.

More: Am I OK? How to do a mental health check

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.

Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has resources to help if you need to find support for yourself or a loved one.

Contributing: Alia E. Dastagir

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kristen Bell on Dax Shepard's COVID-19 mental health help