Actress Keira Knightley recently opened up to Balance about the mental breakdown she had early on in her career after struggling with being in the public eye, saying, “My world crashed when I was 22… Everything stopped working and I felt as if I was broken into tiny pieces; as if my brain was literally shattered.”
The Colette star eventually traveled for a year and went through hypnotherapy as part of her healing process.
“Nobody can predict how they’re going to react to life, but the positive that came from my breakdown is that I was able to come out the other side,” she told Balance. “I know that just because today feels like a mountain, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow will. My mother used to say to me when I was little, ‘There are two options in life: you can either sink or swim.’ Sinking isn’t a remote possibility, so I’m just going to keep swimming.”
Here’s what we can learn from four other notable people who’ve healed after hitting rock bottom.
J.K. Rowling used failure as an opportunity to shoot for the stars
The Harry Potter author has often spoken about her treacherous career path before her megahit book series. “An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless,” she said. She was “the biggest failure” she knew.
But the pros of failure are not lost on her. “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential,” she said in a speech after receiving her honorary Harvard degree. “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Gabrielle Union had to put herself under the microscope
The actress spoke to Jada Pinkett Smith on Smith’s Red Table Talk video series about how she had lost everything important to her, and was forced to rebuild. “I had to hit rock bottom. I had to lose everything… For me that was my first marriage, going through the divorce process… My show was canceled and I was having difficult relationships with my BFFs… It was everyone’s fault but my own. And I literally found myself under my bed with my dog,” she revealed.
Union eventually started working with physical trainer, life coach, and actress A.J. Johnson, who helped her take a closer look at her issues. Union said introspection — and taking responsibility for some negatives in her life — was key to her healing process, adding, “I had to see myself clearly… and it’s ugly, it’s hard, it’s painful to recognize that you’re the common denominator for the vast majority of your problems.”
Mariah Carey learned to “surrender everything”
The singer spoke to Parade back in 2008 about hitting a low point in her career and personal life after her divorce from ex-husband Tommy Mottola, the former chairman of Sony Music.
“How do you climb back from the shambles when everybody counts you out? That can be a very difficult thing to come to terms with, especially when you’ve had so much success from such an early age. I have such faith in God that I really had to surrender everything and just know that I was going to be okay. That’s truly where I had to go to when it felt like the bottom,” Carey told the publication. “More than anything, it was learning to grow up and take care of myself. Not treat myself like the corporation wanted to treat me, but treat myself like a human being. I’ve faced my worst fears and come out of them okay. Everything is always going to be all right as long as I hang on to the person inside of me.”
Cara Delevigne realized how to rely on herself
The model opened up in 2017 that she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts when she was a teenager. After having a breakdown at age of 15, she left school to get treated.
“I know it sounds really stupid, but I relied too much on love, too much on other people to make me happy, and I needed to learn to be happy by myself,” she reportedly said. “So now I can be by myself, I can be happy. It took me a long time.”
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