'It spun me out for a while,' the actress admits. 'You feel so incredibly isolated and alone.'
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 29-year-old actress gets candid about an illness she's been struggling with privately, telling the outlet, "It was pretty debilitating."
"I said no to a lot of projects, not because I wanted to, but because I physically couldn't participate in them," she explains. "And I definitely suffered a lot more than I had to because I didn't take care of myself. The self-inflicted pressure of not wanting to be helped or taken care of created more physical unrest throughout those years."
Woodley says that her health is improving now, but experiencing it all is something she'll never forget.
"I'm on the tail end of it, which is very exciting, but it's an interesting thing, going through something so physically dominating while also having so many people pay attention to the choices you make, the things you say, what you do, what you look like," she says. "It spun me out for a while. You feel so incredibly isolated and alone."
"Unless someone can see that you have a broken arm or a broken leg, it's really difficult for people to relate to the pain that you’re experiencing when it’s a silent, quiet and invisible pain," she adds.
Woodley also admits that struggling with a health battle has taught her a lot, like "the incredibly difficult life task of not caring what people think about you."
"The more I paid attention to the noise that was surrounding me, the longer it was taking my body and my mind to heal," she explains. "Because I wasn't focused on myself, I was focused on an image of myself via the lens of everyone around us."
The Big Little Lies star first spoke about her condition in an interview with The New York Times in April 2020.
"I haven't spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s. While I was doing the Divergent movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation," she said at the time. "Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love. They went on to a lot of success."
Woodley told the outlet that she remembered thinking, "Am I going to survive what I'm going through right now, and ever be healthy? Or even have the opportunity to work on projects I'm passionate about again because of the situation I'm in?"
"I was in a place where I had no choice but to just surrender and let go of my career, and it brought out this negative voice in my mind that kept spinning for years and years afterward," she admitted. "Now I'm on the other side of it, thank God."
"A lot of the last few years has been about focusing on mental health for me, and it's a slow process. But because of that work, I feel very grounded and rooted in who I am and very clear about everything in my life, whether it's my career or my relationships or my own internal worth," she continued. "I feel very grateful to have walked that line of fire, because now I know what I don't want to ever go back to."
For more on Woodley, watch the video below.