Zachary Levi reveals mental breakdown sent him to psychiatric ward
Zachary Levi has revealed he once had a “complete mental breakdown” which led to a three-week stay in a psychiatric ward.
“I’ve struggled with this stuff almost my entire life,” the 41-year-old actor said on Elizabeth Vargas’ “Heart of the Matter” podcast in a preview obtained by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.
“I didn’t realize I was struggling with these things until I was 37, about five years ago, and had a complete nervous breakdown.”
Levi explained that his mental health issues started growing with a mother who had borderline personality disorder and a stepfather who was a “perfectionist.”
“I was a disgrace to the family. I mean, it was a lot of vitriol, a lot of shouting,” he recalled.
The “Shazam!” The star shared that he eventually turned to “sex or drugs or alcohol or things to distract me, to numb me from the pain that I was running from most of my life.”
“The irony is that alcohol can give you this temporary relief, but the next day it increases that anxiety tenfold,” he continued. “So you run backwards to get more, and it just becomes this vicious circle.”
Levi admitted to “running away” from his troubles by moving to Austin, Texas and starting Wyldwood Studios in May 2020.
“My career was in a place where I felt like even though I had achieved so much up until then, I still was, and to be honest, even now I still feel that way. I I feel like I’m kind of on the outside looking in,” he added. “I never really felt like I was part of a group of cool kids .”
The former “Chuck’s” mental health issues eventually escalated into causing him to have panic attacks over where to eat.
“I probably drove around for 10 minutes not knowing where to eat because I didn’t know which place was the right place to eat instead of just saying, ‘Zach, just go eat a little,'” he explained.
“I’m sitting in my truck, and I remember vividly standing behind the wheel, and I was shaking back and forth, like I was almost trying to get myself out of what was going on, and I was just crying. I’m just crying. I’m like, ‘God help me.’
Levi revealed that he eventually went to the ER due to suicidal thoughts and ended up in a psychiatric ward.
“I had very active thoughts of ending my life,” he shared. “It wasn’t the first time I had it. I had been in dark places in my life before, but I guess in those times I had people around me.
“The lies whisper in my ear, and the failure that I felt I was enough to be like, ‘Zach, I feel like you’re not going to make it.'”
In the psychiatric ward, candidate Tony participated in “intensive, life-changing and life-saving therapy,” and he has since found ways to deal with his struggles.
“I think one of the most important things, at least for me, is to take my thoughts captive,” he said. “Our minds are so powerful, but they’re so easily, so easily hacked if we don’t really say, ‘Oh wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I’m doing it again. I’m starting to say bad things about myself again. I begin to be harsh or critical of myself I begin to judge where I am in my life.
Levi’s memoir, “Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others,” hits stores June 28.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.