For many of us, the impacts of childhood trauma linger on insidiously. Aspects of our adult identity become shaped by those terrible chapters in our early years without us even realizing it. And because this happens at such a young age, it can take years of soul searching, not to mention professional support, before a person can sift through those painful memories to recover a real sense of self.
Yes, it’s a taxing and scary process, with perhaps the most daunting aspect being the fact that you once again have to bring that trauma to light by talking about it. But as we have seen many times over, being open and honest about our struggles often results in the support, healing and transformation needed to improve our mental health. In other words—the rewards outweigh the discomfort.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith is a celebrity pretty well known for being candid about his personal challenges, especially when it comes to health and well-being. After suffering from a heart attack back in Feb 2018, the “Clerks” director has made his weight loss journey and the insights from it a major part of his presence online. You’d be hard pressed to find a fan that didn’t know about this part of his life.
However, in an exclusive with People, Kevin Smith revealed for the first time that the root cause of his previous weight struggles had been related to sexual abuse he experienced at 6 years old, when an older boy forced him to perform sexual acts with a young girl in the neighborhood.
As Smith told People, he always denied the gravity of the incident, telling himself that “we were just playing doctor in an alleyway.” It wouldn’t be until the age of 52, after checking into Arizona’s Sierra Tucson treatment center and dedicating a month to intensive therapy, that Smith would learn the event was indeed severe and left him with an untreated psychological wound.
It took suffering from a “complete break from reality” and being stuck in a “weird, dark place,” but Smith did finally get help. After talking with a therapist, he learned that the incident, along with being made fun of for his weight by a teacher in grade school, led him to create a “larger-than-life” public persona he calls “the other guy.”
“I felt disgusting, like I didn’t matter. That’s when ‘the other guy’ started to appear. I decided to be entertaining and make people love me before they noticed I was fat,” he told People.
As we all know from “Jay and Silent Bob” alone, this strategy has worked. Perhaps for Smith more than most, it would seem disastrous to throw away an alter-ego which has brought such great commercial success.
And yet, Smith has still decided to not only take steps towards finding his “authentic self,” which include discontinuing smoking pot and incorporating a more relaxed work schedule, but to share his story with fans in an effort to spread the message of the importance of self-acceptance.
Smith posted a link to the People article on his own Twitter account, writing, “Having been a creature of the Internet for 28 years now, I fully expect to get trolled for this. But if it can help some folks, it’ll be worth it. So here goes…A few months back I went through a mental health crisis. This is some of the stuff I learned.”
Having been a creature of the Internet for 28 years now, I fully expect to get trolled for this. But if it can help some folks, it’ll be worth it.
So here goes…
A few months back I went through a mental health crisis.
This is some of the stuff I learned: https://t.co/9Uavmnxg6F https://t.co/36NuEkqK0w
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) April 26, 2023
Take a look at what folks had to say:
“The more we talk about our mental health, the less stigma there will be around it. It’s ok to not be ok. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Kevin!”
“Kev, I don’t know you well, but we’ve met a few times over the years and I’ve always had a ton of respect for you. And I respect you even more for having the courage to face your demons publicly in a way that will surely help others do the same. Much love, brother.”
“Dude I related to this hard especially struggling with people commenting on my body when I was much heavier growing up and how I processed it. I minimized a lot of the comments going through life. Glad you talked about it Kevin.”
“Sending you all the love, Kev. You are worthy. In every way. You are helping people every day, but most importantly you’re also taking time to help yourself and that’s equally as important. I’ve been on a similar journey and I’m just happy to hear about your healing journey.”
“Thank you so much for this Kevin, being able to actually see the real authentic you is truly amazing, and I hope others get so much positive energy and healing from this, mental health is important and our happiness.”
“This was so beautiful. I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your wisdom these last few years especially. I’m so happy you’re finding yourself, cos that’s who we love. You always shine past the other guy. Much love and godspeed in your continued growth.”
You certainly don’t have to be a popular celebrity to talk about your struggles. If anything, this is a beautiful example of what can happen when we normalize having these types of conversations. It might not look like an interview with People, but opening up to our loved ones, community or a therapist can still work wonders for recovering our sense of self. In fact, it might be the only way for us to truly do it.
You can watch Smith’s full video interview with People below: