Gossip & Celebrity

Gabourey Sidibe Opens Up About Her Struggle With Depression And Bulimia

Gabourey Sidibe details her experiences with depression, anxiety and bulimia during a guest appearance on "Peace Of Mind With Taraji".

The latest episode of “Peace Of Mind With Taraji” is available now on Facebook Watch.

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Today’s episode features Taraji’s “Empire” co-star Gabourey Sidibe who joins the show to discuss her mental health struggles with depression, anxiety and bulimia and how therapy has changed her life. The show also explores how the myth that eating disorders are a skinny white girl problem. Black girls are 50 percent MORE likely to become bulimic than white girls. The show also includes a second guest, Clara, a woman who was bullied in her predominantly white community as a child who shares how that experience led to her depression and bulimia.

Gabourey discussed her personal experiences with anxiety from childhood and how bulimia became “the button” to stop her feelings:

“I did cry a lot in school, elementary, junior high, high school, but when the anxiety started coming full force as I am on my way to college, so like I would have to get to school early so I could really clean myself up, because I would be sweaty, I would be crying, my clothes would genuinely be wet with my tears. And one day I was crying so much and so hard I threw up. I just physically…I threw up, and the second I was done throwing up, my tear ducts dried, I wasn’t sweating anymore, I’d stopped crying and I thought ‘I found the button, this is it.’ I realized that if I throw up it’s going to stop what is going on.”

Gabourey’s went on to say that her bulimia was more of a self-defense mechanism to taper her mental health struggles, than a means for losing weight

“It wasn’t about losing weight, it wasn’t about controlling my appetite, it truly was about how it stopped me from crying, it felt like I was controlling my emotions – I was not, I was out of control. I was getting worse. Being depressed is one thing, if you add an eating disorder to that, that’s a whole other monster that you have to fight.”

Taraji, her co-host Tracie and Gabourey also explored the misconceptions around bulimia being something only being suffered by white girls and skinny girls:

“We were just talking earlier about the fact that we thought growing up that bulimia…it was white folks’ problem!” Tracie said.

“That bulimia belonged to white girls…” Taraji continued. “Just like Black people go ‘Therapy? That’s white people stuff. White people go to see therapists.’”

“I also think that bulimia is like, that’s just for skinny girls,” Gabourey added. “Like only skinny, skinny people but that’s not true because a lot of the time these eating disorders are not necessarily about weight, it’s not about appearance, a lot of it is about control. The weird thing about getting over an eating disorder is that it is not like crack – you can stop doing crack, it might be tough, but you can stop it and take crack out of your life, but you have to eat to be alive, and so for people with eating disorders food may never not be a source of trauma. And so, it will never really be gone, but I would love to learn to do that.”

Speaking of therapy, Gabourey also talked about how she was in school training to be a therapist when she booked her breakout lead role in ‘Precious’

“So eventually, spoiler alert, I became an actress,” Gabourey detailed. “I had just got back into school, but I was so mad at myself I was saying to myself, ‘You’re finally doing what you want to do, you are going to mess this up, this is your first week of school, you’re messing it up.’ But that audition was ‘Precious’ and I got the job – even to this day so many strangers come up to me and they tell me, this is what happened to me as a child, and your film helped me through that. I realized, oh I’m probably helping more people with my work, than I ever could in an office.”

Watch the episode below or on Facebook Watch


This is so eye-opening. Did you guys already know about Gabourey’s battle with bulimia? She wrote about it in her 2017 memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare.

On Wednesday’s episode Taraji and Tracie discuss with Therapist Jay Barnett why depression and bulimia are common in the Black community and offer tips and tools for those struggling to help cope.

Peace of Mind with Taraji episodes drop every Monday and Wednesday at 9amPT/12pmET. Episodes can be found on facebook.com/Watch and Taraji P. Henson’s Facebook page: facebook.com/tarajiphenson

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