Keira Knightley Gets Candid About Her Past Breakdown and Motherhood: 'My Brain Was Shattered'

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley is speaking out about a difficult time in her life.

Keira Knightley is speaking out about a difficult time in her life.

The 33-year-old British actress shot to fame with a series of box-office hits when she was just a teenager -- Bend It Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually just to name a few -- which continued into her early twenties. In a new interview with Balance magazine, she says the time period is now just a "blur" to her.

“I was at a time in my life when I was still becoming,” she explains. “Like most young people, I hadn’t quite found who I was or what I was about. My body was changing, and I didn’t even know how I felt about myself and what I looked like. Yet all of a sudden, people were being very vocal with their views on me as a young woman and as an actress. I lost confidence in myself because I was made to feel that I didn’t deserve to be doing what I was doing.” 

“Looking back, that whole period between 19 and 23 is a big blur," she continues. "I don’t remember it in a linear way because I think my coping mechanisms were kicking in and shutting a lot of it out.” 

Still, it came to be too much when she was 22, when Knightley had a mental breakdown. 

“My world crashed when I was 22,” she recalls. “Everything stopped working and I felt as if I was broken into tiny pieces; as if my brain was literally shattered.”

After taking a year off to travel, Knightley says undergoing therapy has helped her get back to her career. 

“There was a very big question mark over whether I was ever going to go back to work, but I’ve always loved acting; it’s just everything else that comes with it that I was struggling with," she notes. 

These days, Knightley is married to musician James Righton and the two have a 3-year-old daughter, Edie. The actress candidly acknowledges she struggles with motherhood at times. 

"I don’t think we give women enough credit for the physical and emotional marathon they go through when becoming a mother,” she says. “I come from a place of amazing privilege. I have an incredible support system; I’ve been unbelievably lucky in my career; I can afford good childcare, and yet I still find it really f**king difficult."

"It’s OK to say that," she continues. "It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kid, it’s just me admitting that the sleep deprivation, the hormonal changes, the shift in relationship with my partner, are all things that make me feel as if I’m failing on a daily basis. I have to remind myself that I haven’t failed, I’m just doing what I can do, but it’s not easy.”

Knightley has previously opened up about her breakdown in her early twenties. During her appearance on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast last October, she said that the public's focus on her looks definitely affected her. 

"I did have a mental breakdown at 22, so I did take a year off there and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all of that stuff," Knightley said. "I went deep into therapy and all of that, and she [the therapist] said, 'It's amazing -- I normally come in here and have people that think people are talking about them and they think that they're being followed, but actually they're not. You're the first person that actually that is happening to!'"

ET last spoke to Knightley in October, when she and her Colette co-star, Dominic West, talked about playing a mid-century celebrity couple. Watch the video below for more: