Gabrielle Union: ‘PTSD isn’t a death sentence. You don’t have to be alone’

Gabrielle Union covers Women's Health
Gabrielle Union is covering Women’s Health’s October issue. She discusses her PTSD and speaks out for those struggling with their mental health at this difficult time. Gabrielle says that she was diagnosed with PTSD when she was 19 after being raped at gunpoint outside her job at Payless. Gabrielle wants to encourage those whose mental health has been affected due to the pandemic and the constant images of the brutalization of Black bodies. She said dealing with your mental health is not a weakness, it just makes you human. People has some advance excerpt from Women’s Health:

“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,” Union, 47, says in her October cover interview for Women’s Health, shared exclusively with PEOPLE.

“There’s just terror in my body,” says Union.

Explaining the coping mechanisms she uses to manage her PTSD, Union tells the outlet: “I break out my emotional fix-me toolkit, and 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. It’s been this way since ’92. It’s just something I do; second nature.”

She has also turned to therapy to help her manage expectations: “I feel different in my body. I feel freer.”

Union previously opened up about her struggles with PSTD, sharing in 2018 — for the second annual installment of The Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign — that she was diagnosed when she was a teenager after she was raped.

“I’m here to tell you that I am PTSD survivor, thriver, bad ass motherf—– I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint — and I didn’t let it stop me,” Union shared.

“I didn’t want it to define my whole life, and it doesn’t have to. Asking for help, needing help doesn’t make you weak or less worthy of love or support or success,” she said.

Union added, “You can literally be anything you want to be. PTSD isn’t a death sentence. You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. There are so many of us out there who are feeling exactly what you’re dealing with it and it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you anything but human.”

[From People]

It gives me joy that Gabrielle she’s one of the Black voices speaking about therapy and mental health to a community where the subject is still taboo. As someone who was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 29, I know the importance of good mental health fitness. I didn’t take my diagnosis seriously for years. I spent several years dealing with panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I was triggered by situations that I reacted to by making terrible decisions that affected my livelihood. It took a combination of several modalities before I accepted that this would be a life long journey.

I was one of the first people in my family to go to therapy and have been advocating for my mother and a few of my cousins to go. Many people, especially in the Black community, suffer from communal and familial traumas but rarely get help. I hope that Black celebrities and those with a platform continue to advocate and normalize therapy. Like Gabrielle says in her interview, gaining a healthy coping toolkit has helped me recognize when my PTSD is being triggered so that I can remain clear to make better choices.

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11 Responses to “Gabrielle Union: ‘PTSD isn’t a death sentence. You don’t have to be alone’”

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  1. Astrid says:

    Good story

  2. Züri says:

    I rarely agree with magazine covers’ headlines, but “the voice we all need to hear right now” could not be more apt. I’ve been a fan of Gabrielle Union since Bring It On and she– and Dwyane Wade– put out such powerful and positive messages. Bonus: photos of their beautiful family.


    She is a strong, inspiring woman. And not to be shallow but she looks incredible in this photo spread.

  4. Jalene says:

    I don’t like the colors on the cover. That red and her yellow bathing suit is not a good combo.

    But that being said: HOLY SHIT she looks geeeeooorgeous! That spread of her is AMAZING.

  5. just a small town girl says:

    this is so, so important, I’m glad to see it. I wish there were also more male voices speaking out for mental health; my SO is in therapy now after seeing how much it helped me and the spillover to him and our relationship, and I’m so happy for him. there’s so much generational trauma from his family, not to mention the world, that I think it can only be good for him.

  6. nicegirl says:

    This really hits home for me. Thanks Gab!!

  7. BnLurkN4eva says:

    PTSD is no joke and I’m glad it’s being discussed.

  8. ClaireB says:

    I was diagnosed with PTSD last year after a lifetime of depression. I didn’t realize how much the PTSD had shaped the way I perceived the world and myself and I’m still struggling with some aspects of it even though I have gotten treatment and am doing counseling. It didn’t strike me until today reading Gabrielle’s interview that this might be a continuous struggle that I still have to work on daily and might for the rest of my life.

    I’m really glad she’s talking about mental health and her own problems, both for POC and women.

  9. Jensies says:

    I have PTSD myself and am a trauma therapist. PTSD is no joke. It has tentacles that influence so much of our lives and reactions, often really subtly. I diagnose it all the time with folks who have been struggling so hard with depression and anxiety and wondering why the normal methods don’t work for them, that think they’re broken. The truth is that they’ve just had trauma and made a lot of adaptations to that, and we have to go at it from that angle. When we do, things get a lot better. Find a good therapist. Go to therapy. This can be changed.

    Shallow note, Gabrielle is awesome and her body is banging. Loving all the bright colors on her, especially the yellow. Reminds me of Bring It On lol.

  10. nicegirl says:

    Great Post, thank you Oya