While many see Kelly Ripa as an outgoing, upbeat, extrovert, she revealed she’s been struggling with anxiety much of her adult life in her new memoir, “Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories.” The “Live with Kelly and Ryan” host explains what it’s been like dealing with mental health issues behind the scenes and how therapy has helped her.
“I Have A Severe Case Of Social Anxiety Disorder”
In her book, Ripa, 51, recalls when she began therapy after believing she was depressed. Her therapist suggested that her job was possibly causing her to feel “miserable.” “I have a severe case of social anxiety disorder, and I tend to say awkward or inappropriate things when under duress,” she wrote in the book. “People think that because I’m an extrovert on television I am one in real life. Surprise. That’s why they call it acting.”
The actress explained what she told her therapist. “I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. I almost always wake up crying at the thought of having to go to work. I feel like I’m in physical pain. My hair hurts. I have no energy at all. I’m easily distracted,” she wrote. “When I’m playing with my kids, I feel like I’ve forgotten to do something at work, and when I’m at work, I feel like I’ve forgotten to do something for my kids.” She continued by discussing the bouts of crying she experienced. “I cry in the shower. I cry myself to sleep. I cry backstage. I sometimes want to cry in the middle of the show,” she explained. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.”
Ripa Credits Her Therapist For Learning How To “Be A Better Self Advocate”
Ripa recently discussed how therapy helped her deal with her anxiety and heal the past with PEOPLE. “I learned that there’s a certain amount of narcissism that is necessary to survive, healthy narcissism. And I was like, what does that even mean? That’s an oxymoron,” she said. “And [my therapist] was like, it’s actually not. Healthy narcissism allows you to live, make safe choices, breathe, those sort of things. And she’s like, that’s a good thing to have. But thinking that you can single handedly fix everything, that’s where it delves into, you’re not that important.”
She went on further to explain how her therapist taught her “how to be a better self advocate” and how to think in a different way. “My therapist really was so smart and still is so smart and taught me that I’m not that important in the grand scheme of things. That no is the healthiest word out there really when it comes to decision making. And she really taught me just how to be a better self advocate, how to think of things in a different way,” she explained. “How to really, truly understand that when encountering somebody that is toxic, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. And once you start thinking about that, it really reframes the picture for you.”
Ripa Also Made Setting Boundaries An Important Part Of Her Life
In the memoir, the mom of three wrote about her struggles in a self-awareness type of way. “I question whether or not any of my high-functioning social anxiety disorder, my low-functioning borderline personality disorder, my wanton reckless agoraphobia, my unchecked ADHD has affected my kids, but they seem to be doing great,” she wrote. She also added the footnote, “All psychological disorders above are self-diagnosed.”
While talking to ET recently, Ripa explained that boundary-setting has become an important part of her life. “We are trained to say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, let me see what we can do, let me figure a way to work that out. I am going to twist myself into a pretzel to make things uncomfortable for me so that you can get the desired outcome,” she said. “Once you learn the power of ‘No, that doesn’t work for me,’ it takes all negotiation off the table…the person has to either acquiesce or move along and that has been a great benefit to me.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and needs help, text “STRENGTH” to the 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.