Jonathan Lipnicki is opening up about the aftermath of being a child star, and the unexpected and often painful impact it had on his life.
The 26-year-old actor, who first gained worldwide fame as Renee Zellweger's adorable son in the 1996 romantic drama Jerry Maguire, took to Instagram on Monday to share his experiences with being bullied.
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"As a kid/teen I was made fun of relentlessly," Lipnicki wrote. "I was told I was a has-been and would never book a job again. I was made to feel like garbage every day of middle school to the point where I had a panic attack every night before school because I wondered how I would get through the next day."
While Lipnicki's highest profile roles to date came when he was young, he's been working consistently in film and television for years, and he marveled at how he's now "made more movies as an adult" than he did as a kid.
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That milestone, the actor explained, is why he felt compelled to tell his story -- to encourage others to follow their dreams in spite of naysayers.
"It gives me anxiety being this open, but being bullied is a universal problem. I am not a victim, but rather empowered because I was able to turn to my art," Lipnicki wrote. "I am grateful for the amazing life I have and I hope I can pass on that it DOES get better. As much as it is easier said than done, overcoming being bullied is a reality."
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On Tuesday, Lipnicki returned to Instagram to address the positive and supportive response he's received to his initial post, including interview requests from major media outlets.
"Honestly, it's scary to share the most personal stuff that has happened to me, but I hope it can resonate with some kids out there," he wrote, adding that he recently sat down for his first interview in which he "publicly discussed my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression."
While Lipnicki appreciates the support from fans, the actor said he doesn't "need sympathy."
"I'm here because I'm tough. I'm here to help others by sharing my experience. I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor and kids will hopefully see that they can be too."
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