Anyone who has watched a movie starring Emma Stone can attest to her ability to seem like the “cool girl” who seems to have it all together. On the red carpet, she always looks elegant and composed. Some may be surprised, therefore, to learn that it’s taken a lot of effort to get to that place of calm.
During a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, the 26-year-old actress revealed that she turned to acting as a way to channel her anxiety. She explained: “It was really bad. The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop.”
She went on to describe her time in high school: “I would go to the nurse at lunch most days and just wring my hands. I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”
After seeing a therapist, Stone learned that she was able to get some control over her emotions by participating in local youth theater. “There’s something about the immediacy of acting,” Stone said. “You can’t afford to think about a million other things. You have to think about the task at hand. Acting forces me to sort of be like a Zen master: What is happening right in this moment?”
Unfortunately, stress consumed her when personal details about her life were made public during the Sony hack last December. Her immediate reaction was to panic which she described as doing “one of the worst things ever.”
She explained: “I was getting all these emails and texts from people I didn’t know – ‘Hi, I’m Joe from the U.K. I like your movies’ – and I was so overwhelmed that I went to my in-box and I deleted all my emails. In about a 30-second span, I hit ‘Select All’ and ‘Delete Forever,’ and thousands of emails, like six years of emails, are now gone forever. I was just so freaked out that someone was in there.” She then proceeded to cry for the next hour.
It’s reasonable to assume that most people would react similarly to such a huge invasion of their privacy. It must be especially stressful for those who try to maintain control over their personal lives while living in the public eye. For example, there has been much speculation about her relationship with 31-year-old Amazing Spider-Man co-star, Andrew Garfield, but she chooses to keep the real details under wraps.
It is such a great thing that Stone had a supportive family and a healthy outlet when she began experiencing panic attacks since it seems to have paid off. When people can find a way to channel those intense emotions, it can spare them years of pain and suffering. It’s encouraging to others, also, that someone who seems so carefree could be privately coping with panic and anxiety by developing positive ways of coping. Emma Stone is another great example of how celebrities who are open and honest about their mental health struggles can make a real difference.