Her power-packed performances, a plethora of awards, gorgeous public appearances, and massive global fan following are the well-deserved consequences of constant hard work and undying conviction for her craft. Apart from the common struggles that actors in the show business go through before making it big, Emma Stone had to face her own demons and fight against herself to come out strong and confident on the other side of the storm.
The La La Land actress’ childhood was not only difficult but frightening. It is almost unbelievable how she fought against her own self every single day to become one of the most celebrated artists we have in the global entertainment industry today. Emma had her first panic attack when she was only 7 years of age. She couldn’t sleep an entire night because she kept thinking that the house was burning down, she told ABC News. She could see nothing of this sort was actually happening, but her senses refused to believe her eyes and kept disturbing her.
“Before I went into second grade, I had my first panic attack. It was really, really terrifying and overwhelming,” the 30-year-old said. “I was at a friend’s house, and all of a sudden I was convinced the house was on fire and it was burning down… obviously, the house wasn’t on fire, but there was nothing in me that didn’t think we were going to die.” According to ABC News, every day throughout second grade, Stone would go to the nurse’s office, convinced she had a stomach bug and have to call her mother. “I had deep separation anxiety,” she said.
Alarmed by this behavior, her mother took her to therapy. The doctor revealed to her mother that Emma is suffering from an anxiety disorder which her mother decided not to break to her. The Oscar-winning actress says that she is grateful to her mother for not letting her know about the disorder, back then. “I am very grateful I didn’t know that I had a disorder,” Stone said. “I wanted to be an actor and there weren’t a lot of actors who spoke about having panic attacks.”
From there on, Emma’s mother, Krista Stone was always there to help her cope with her inner battles and emotional struggles. She followed each and every one of the doctors’ advice and supported her daughter to the best of her abilities. For instance, Emma revealed that after her first panic attack she would ask the same question to her mother again and again. “I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later.” She added, initially, “She would repeat it over and over to me,” reports Goalcast.
Later, after her doctor’s advice, she was asked to make changes in her behavior to support Emma. She complied and kept supporting her daughter. When Emma started acting at age 11, she found the weapon to fight her anxiety with. Being around children in a community theater started isolating her from her anxiety and she learned how to use improvisation to perfect her craft.
“With improv, I learned I could take all of these big feelings and really listen in the moment and use all of my associative brain that still wakes me up in the middle of the night and the thing that still haunts me to this day to be useful to my job,” she said.
Her craft also made her understand that letting her anxiety overpower her will only caused destruction. She, therefore, used it as a superpower to enhance her sense and acting prowess. “I believe the people who have anxiety and depression are very, very sensitive and very, very smart,” she said. “Because the world is hard and scary and there’s a lot that goes on and if you’re very attuned to it, it can be crippling. But if you don’t let it cripple you and use it for something productive, it’s like a superpower.”
At age 15, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career and her mother never stopped her from following her heart. In fact, she accompanied her to the new city to look after her and be there for her whenever she needed a shoulder to fall back on.
Going through a lot of internal struggles has opened Stone up to the lives and fights of other people. She says that her anxiety has helped her become more receptive and empathetic towards other people’s feelings and it has also helped her polish her craft.
“I also believe there is a lot of empathy when you struggled a lot internally,” she said. “There is a tendency to want to understand how people around you work or what’s going on internally with them which is great for characters,” reports PEOPLE.
While she has taken control of her emotions and anxiety now, she still goes through therapy, meditation, and keeps herself busy with people who love her to help herself stay strong and poised. Her constant bouts with anxiety are the reason she keeps social media at bay. “That would send me into a spin,” she said. “I don’t need to be getting constant feedback on who I am.”
Her message to others battling anxiety: “You don’t have to be an actor to overcome anxiety, you don’t have to be a writer to overcome it. You just have to find that thing within you that you are drawn to.”