Gina Rodriguez Opens Up About Struggle With Hashimoto's Disease, 'Debilitating' Anxiety and Panic Attacks
By Antoinette Bueno
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Gina Rodriguez is getting candid about her health.
The 33-year-old Jane the Virgin star is currently promoting her new film, Annihilation, and talked to SELF magazine about playing a tough paramedic. Rodriguez says playing the role of Anya "felt like butter," and opened up about her own struggles with chronic illness. Rodriguez has Hashimoto's disease -- a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid -- resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, muscle aches and weakness, depression and memory lapses.
"To the core of my being, I know what it’s like to feel like there is no way I can win this, so where do I even begin,” she says of her ongoing health battle. "[Hashimoto’s] affects so many aspects of your life. I’ve had it for so many years…that rebellion of not taking care of myself can’t exist anymore.”
Rodriguez is now proactive about her health, changing her diet and exercising for health reasons as opposed to weight loss. For her role in Annihilation, she went vegan and weight trained -- resulting in a noticeable change in her body -- however, she says she purposely maintains her "comfortable" weight to play Jane on her hit CW show.
“I’m OK in both of those,” she shares of her fluctuating sizes. “I’m not less than because I’m 10, 15, 20 pounds more.”
Rodriguez says her boyfriend, Joe LoCicero, has definitely been a great support sytem when it comes to her health and well-being. She calls their relationship of over a year one of “respect and kindness, and generosity, and compromise, and sacrifice.”
“[He] has really helped me have a healthier perspective on [weight], that stupid number that can destroy us and feel like it’s equivalent to our self-worth,” she shares. “This love is so easy."
Still, the effects of Hashiomoto's disease clearly affects Rodriguez's daily life. Rodriguez talks specifically about her memory lapses, and admits to feeling "shame" that she sometimes can't remember certain moments in her relationship with LoCicero, such as a sweet gesture he made, or what they ate together just one day later. She also recently suffered from "debilitating" panic attacks and anxiety, though has been able to pinpoint the cause. Rodriguez was taking too much thyroid medication, and was able to put a stop to the attacks by lowering her dosage.
“It is really important for us to be super self-aware,” she notes. “I wasn’t banking on that. I wasn’t like, 'hey, yeah, let me get a disease that makes me have to be super aware.' I don’t want to be super aware of myself all of the time.”
“For those of you so determined to come up w why my body has changed over the years, you may not know that when I started @ 17 I was not yet diagnosed w/Hashimoto’s disease; those of u who called me ‘too big for the industry’ were seeing inflammation & water retention due to that,” she wrote. "Although stress & excessive travel can also affect the body, I have always eaten the same, my body just handles it differently now that my health is better. I may be “too skinny” for u, honestly this skinny isn’t what I want to be, but I feel healthier internally and am still learning and growing with my body everyday, as everyone is."
Meanwhile, ET spoke to Rodriguez and LoCicero in October at the Los Angeles Dance Project's annual gala, when they talked about working out together.
“He’s taught me everything,” Rodriguez told ET of her fit beau.
“Oh, she learns quick,” LoCicero added. “She pushes me hard.”