This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Gabrielle Union has never been one to shy away from a candid conversation, especially when the topic at hand affects so much of the population.
During a conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow at the In Goop Health virtual summit over the weekend, Union addressed both her mental health journey as well as hormonal issues caused by perimenopause, E! News reported.
"I've had so many rock bottom moments as an adult, starting with being raped at 19 at gunpoint at my job,” Union, 48, told Paltrow. “It just felt like every so many years there was some major catastrophic event that was happening in my life. You know, divorce, career setbacks, relationship issues. There's always something that just lands you on your ass and you're like 'There's no way I can move on from this, I'll never recover, I'll never be the same.'"
"You have these mini deaths," Union continued in her conversation with Paltrow. “You have to grieve the person you were before. And there have been times I've felt like I had to be reborn out of success, because that comes with its own challenges."
In addition to her mental health challenges, Union also revealed that she was diagnosed with perimenopause, which typically occurs as women transition into menopause. The actor was diagnosed in her 30s, but said her “symptoms reached a fever pitch” last September.
"I thought I was losing my mind," the "Bring It On" star explained. "I thought I had early onset dementia, Alzheimer's. I gained 20 pounds overnight of water retention, inflammation, bizarre. I couldn't think. Now, when I have to public speak in the last few months, I'm so anxious, because I'm like, 'Am I going to remember words?'"
Another symptom of her perimenopause she says was suicidal ideation. The actor explained that she’s experienced depressive episodes before, but didn’t typically have them for long periods of time, sometimes lasting as long as a couple of weeks.
“I fell into something so dark in December that it scared me,” she said, touching on a moment she shared with her husband, Dwyane Wade. “I had a stupid argument with D, and instead of my usual problem-solving...immediately, my brain, that little inner voice said, 'He's never going to get it unless you're dead.' Only because I've been in therapy for half my life that I was like 'No, I don't know who is talking now, it's not my intuition.'"
She continued, adding, "I was able to get through it with talk therapy and diving into how I can regulate my hormones. Luckily I was at home and I alerted everyone."
“Separating the symptoms from who you really are...to say that it's a challenge, I don't think I really have the words, or I lost them, to describe what these last few months have been,” she said.
The 48-year-old actor has been transparent about how being raped at gunpoint at age 19 sparked her PTSD, discussing the topic with Taraji P. Henson in December 2020 on her Facebook Watch show, “Peace of Mind with Taraji.” Two months prior, Union told Women’s Health Magazine that her PTSD has been “on 10” in recent months due to the pandemic and racial unrest in the country.
“The combination of a pandemic and this racial reckoning, alongside being inundated with (images of) the brutalization of Black bodies, has sent my PTSD into overdrive,” she said. “There’s just terror in my body.”
In addition to her PTSD and experience with sexual assault, Union has been open about her struggles with infertility, including suffering miscarriages before eventually giving birth to her daughter, Kaavia, via surrogate.
“Fertility issues strike so many people,” Union told TODAY Parents in 2019. “You do not have to be lurking in the shadows, going to your doctor’s appointment in full disguise. You are not defective. You are part of a very, very, very large community that understands every step you have been through. There is hope.”