‘The Rock’ Reveals Life-Long Battle With Depression: ‘I Didn’t Want To Be There’

"I didn't know what it was."

‘The Rock’ Reveals Life-Long Battle With Depression: ‘I Didn’t Want To Be There’

Image: LA Times

The conversation around men’s mental health is finally opening up. This week, one of Hollywood’s hardest-working leading men bravely joined the quick-growing chorus of celebs revealing their ongoing internal struggles and, in direct contravention of his world-renowned slogan, it really does matter.

Dwayne Johnson is one of the world’s highest-paid movie stars, the proud owner of an enviable watch collection, and the even prouder owner of one of the meanest sets of shoulders in the industry. But now Hollywood’s quintessential macho man has bravely revealed his ongoing struggle with depression during an appearance on The Pivot podcast.

In doing so, Johnson joins a growing chorus of male celebrities — including but by no means limited to Marvel superhero stars and NRL legends — who are joining the escalating conversation around men’s mental health and the wider efforts to normalise inner struggles and their effects on our everyday lives.

This celebrity outpouring reflects a worldwide mental health crisis in which Australia’s troubles are particularly acute: nearly half of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime and Australia has the second-highest per capita use of antidepressants out of all the OECD countries, with many welcoming the imminent legalisation of psychedelic therapies.

In the video, Johnson recalls that his first encounter with depression happened “down there in Miami” when the would-be star was attending high school: “I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t take any midterms… I just left”. However, one aspect of this first struggle is especially revealing: Johnson was suffering from a shoulder injury…

WATCH: Hear it from the man himself, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Explicitly connecting regular physical exercise with mental health, Johnson explains that he “wasn’t working out” because of his injury and noticed a correlating decline in his mental health: “As an athlete, any kind of sweat and getting it in will help get that sh*t out of you”. It’s no wonder then that in the years since, Johnson’s insane morning routine, including a killer workout, has become a non-negotiable.

Suffering another bout of depression years later when going through a divorce from first wife Dany Garcia, Johnson admits that the biggest issue he faced during his early struggles wasn’t necessarily the depression itself but rather the fact he “didn’t know what it was… didn’t know what mental health was”. In 2017, the depression emerged again, but Johnson had figured out the way through…

“I knew what it was and luckily had some friends I could lean on”, he said, before explaining that when he finds himself “seeing a little grey and not the blue”, the saving graces for him are his three daughters: “You look at them and realise ‘this is what it’s all about'”. Doubling down on this message in the caption of an Instagram post, he said this:

“If you’re going thru your own version of mental wellness turning into mental hell-ness, the most important thing you can do is talk to somebody. It can’t be fixed if you keep that pain inside.
Having the courage to talk to someone is your superpower… Despite how you may feel, you’re never alone.”

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Behind the action hero façade, Dwayne Johnson reminds us that even ‘The Rock’ needs a little support for his mental well-being. By flexing his emotional muscles, we hope the star inspires others to lift the weight of their own mental health battles.