Gabrielle Union Says Her PTSD Has Been in 'Overdrive' Due to the Pandemic and 'Racial Reckoning'
By Jackie Willis
Djeneba Aduayom for Women’s Health
Gabrielle Union is sharing how she's coping with her PTSD amid such unprecedented times.
The 47-year-old actress covers the October issue of Women's Health and admits that she's faced some trying times with her own mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.
"The combination of the pandemic and this racial reckoning, alongside being inundated with [images of] the brutalization of Black bodies, has sent my PTSD into overdrive," she tells the magazine. "There’s just terror in my body."
Union, who has opened up about being raped at gunpoint by a stranger at a Payless store where she worked during her sophomore year of college, says she has a "emotional fix-me toolkit" for dealing with her PTSD.
"I try to run through all the situations. I call it my 'what’s the likelihood of X happening?' method… If I’m fearful about going into a store because I’m anxious about being robbed, I’ll make myself feel better by going to one where there will be witnesses to cut down those chances," she explains. "It’s been this way since '92. It’s just something I do; second nature."
Union also credits therapy for helping her get through tough times, noting, "I feel different in my body. I feel freer."
In addition to dealing with PTSD, the Bring It On star opens up about her struggle with anxiety and gives an example of how it manifests.
"I was watching this hummingbird and thinking, 'He’s up there and he’s able to fly, but he just keeps hitting his head against the top of this thing.' I felt everything clench. But watching that hummingbird just f*cked me up," Union recalls. "I couldn’t start my next meeting until we figured out how to help the little hummingbird, because if I don’t have at least a reasonable amount of peace at any moment, I can’t focus. It affects everything for me."
As for what she thinks the future holds following the Black Lives Matter movement, Union shares, "I’m not going to factor in change I have yet to see. For the most part, across all industries, you see the same power structure that existed before [the death of] George Floyd. All of these initiatives that people are so excited about -- if the people at the top haven’t changed, and they’re not interested in creating more space up here, how far are these people that we’re bringing in going?"
Union is, however, trying to do her part when it comes to her affordable hair-care product line and clothing collection with New York & Co. "I want to make sure that everything that is working for me is available to as many people as possible," she says. "We’re not free until everyone is free.”