Critically acclaimed actor Zachary Levi looks like he got it all together. The public sees in him a famous, rich, successful, contented man, not knowing that behind this superb Hollywood-star-mask are a broken, unforgiving heart and a depressed mind that countlessly thought of suicide.
In an exclusive interview with Christian Post, the 41-year-old, who's famous for his role as Chuck Bartowski on the NBC drama "Chuck", opened up about his past mental health struggles that ultimately led to severe depression and anxiety.
Levi narrated his story five years ago when he had a complete breakdown and was pushed to the edge of wanting to end his life. He did not understand any of what he was going through and why. Yet, looking back he realized it was the sum of his heartbreaking divorce from actress Missy Peregrym, his pressured, unhealthy Hollywood star lifestyle, and the childhood trauma caused by psychological abuse from his mother, and later on from his stepdad.
Growing up in an abusive environment, he recalled, made him want to constantly escape the pain, which led to various addictions to sex, drugs, and alcohol. In addition, his life being in Hollywood made it more difficult to be healed from all the past traumas and hurts. It even made it worst.
"Hollywood is not exactly the most loving, kind, safe place for people's hearts and minds and souls," he revealed. He continued to suffer trauma and abuse even at the hands of his employers and in the system of Hollywood, but he did not acknowledge the struggles as trauma then. He thought there were just conflicts he need to work out, but now he realized that every bit of that struggle was causing him to relive and feed into the childhood pains, making healing impossible.
The "Shazam" actor expressed his gratitude to one of his sisters who found a place for him where he can rest and seek true, deep healing. He spent three weeks of "very intensive, life-changing life-saving therapy" that renewed and got him back to his feet. He shared that after that experience and sincerely doing all the work asked of him, things in his life began "opening up."
From 'Other Care' To Self-Love Journey
The most significant thing he ever learned from his three-week therapy is self-love, not the shallow kind of self-love, which equates to selfishness but the deeper, more purposeful kind of seeing one's self in the eyes of God and seeing that he/she is worthy to be loved deeply, in spite of who he was and what he hs done or what has been done to him.
Levi, now an outspoken Christian, has learned that he is "wonderfully and fearfully" made by God, as the Bible said in Psalm 139:14, that he is "inherently valuable." Being able to grasp this and finally being able to find his identity through Christ changed his life for the best, along with therapy and his loved one's support,
"I'm an infant when it comes to figuring out how to love myself and self-care. That's another thing that I've never really understood; I've always been 'other care,' I've always been trying to save the world and take care of other people. And that's given me purpose and meaning; never really knowing how to spend to with myself, by myself," the actor confessed.
He went on to share that no amount of performance, success or fame and fortune will ever earn one's worth or love. He reminded the public that they are lovable and loved simply because they are. "The fact that we exist is a miracle. We are all these walking, talking miracles," he declared.
Seeing everyone around him as created in the image and likeness of God and intentionally practicing to love them radically has allowed him to release forgiveness to himself and his mother, which started his healing journey on trauma and abuse.
And, although it is intimidating, Levi, now an author, did not think twice to share his story in his memoir entitled "Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others" published last June 28.
In an interview with People, he said that he did not write his book to tell the world that he is an expert or a pastor, but to express that he is a mere person, like everyone else, going through a journey of mental and emotional health that has its ups and downs, and he would want to bless the readers with the same blessing and wisdom he was given and has learned along the way.
"And I truly believe that if we can help heal the hearts and minds of everyone on earth, we will solve every other problem known to man in the process," the actor declared.
'Unworthiness Is From The Enemy'
A champion for mental health and the Ambassador of Active Minds, a non-profit focused on providing mental health services on college campuses across the country, Levi also shares one important truth - "unworthiness is from the enemy", and so no one should fall to that lie.
Levi recalled that during his darkest moment five years ago, he was so sure that there is no God, believing that if there really is a God, he wouldn't be in the darkness he is in. He literally cried out to God to give him answers on why he is going through the pain but to no avail. God wasn't answering until he had the revelation that those are all lies from the enemy.
God is always present, waiting for people to realize that He is the cure. The enemy will do everything for the world to believe that one is alone, but that is a lie.
"The enemy, the darkness tells us you're uniquely broken; nobody's been broken like you, nobody's going to understand your brokenness... That's such a lie. We all struggle with the same stuff and we've all been struggling with it since the beginning of time. So we've got to be willing to accept these ideas and accept that your brain is very easily hijacked," he stated.
According to statistics from Active Minds, mental health issues have never been so rampant these days especially among young adults. Thus, the term "anxious generation." What is more alarming is that suicide is the second leading cause of death in this young generation. Sixty-seven percent of these young people share their suicidal thoughts with a friend first before their parents or anyone else.
It is vital also to take note and "take heart" of the fact that one out of five adults has recognizable mental illness and issues. More so, 50% of the world is going through and will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.