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Kristen Bell recalls Dax Shepard confronting her about her mental health

The "Frozen" star struggled to manage her anxiety and depression as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold.
/ Source: TODAY

Like many Americans, Kristen Bell found herself glued to the TV as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in 2020.

“I have trouble distinguishing between my emotions and someone else’s emotions, and that’s not a compliment to myself. That’s a very dangerous thing to toy with,” Bell told Self in a story published on Monday.

The news cycle took Bell, 40, to such a dark place, that her husband, Dax Shepard, had to intervene. Shepard, 46, was concerned about how Bell's mental health was affecting their daughters, Lincoln, 8, and Delta, 6.

“‘Hey, real quick, are you helping anyone right now by sitting and crying in your bed, or are you just being self-indulgent?’” Bell remembered Shepard saying. “Either get up and donate money or donate your time or do something to help, or take that story in, give it some love, and come out here and be a good mom and a good wife and a good friend and live your life in honor of the suffering that happens in the world.’”

Initially, the “Frozen” star was outraged. Then, she realized Shepard had a point.

Bell, a longtime mental health advocate, first started taking medication to deal with her anxiety and depression while studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“I wasn’t suicidal…. It was just a generalized dark cloud over me. I felt like my real personality was in a tiny cage inside my body,” she revealed.

In addition to a daily selective serotonin inhibitor (SSRI), Bell uses exercise to boost her endorphins. Earlier this year, she shared a photo of herself after completing a cardio workout.

“I’ve been struggling the last 2 weeks, for who-knows-why-slash-ALL-the-reasons,” Bell wrote at the time. “Today I finally got back on the treadmill, figuratively and literally. And I’m proud. To anyone who’s been feeling the same, you can do it.”

Bell has also found that knitting and working on jigsaw puzzles help to clear her mind and keep her off her phone.

“I know that I present someone who is very bubbly and happy all the time, and a lot of the time I am, because I have really good tools,” she explained while speaking with Self. “But there are definitely days when the alarm goes off and I go, ‘No, I’m staying right here. Nothing’s worth it… I’m just going to stay in this cocoon because I need to be; because I feel very, very, very vulnerable.”

Bell has been working for years to help end the stigma around mental health.

“It occurred to me that I was showing this very bubbly, bright persona, and that it was unauthentic. Because it wasn’t telling the whole story,” Bell told TODAY Parents in 2018. “I had a pit in my stomach for almost feeling ashamed that I had hidden it for so long, because it could’ve helped people before if I had talked about it.”