Taraji P. Henson is committed to spotlighting her own experiences with mental health issues in hopes of de-stigmatizing them, and she’s opening up about how her father’s struggles with PTSD and bipolar disorder have continued to impact her current life.
The “Empire” actress spoke with Marc Maron during his Oct. 11 episode of the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast about growing up with her loving and supportive father, Boris Henson, who also happened to suffer from mental health illnesses that he spoke openly about, including sharing his story about the time he unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide.
“My dad suffered. He had PTSD, manic depression — well, back then it was called manic depression before they did more research,” she said beginning at 1:04. “He wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn’t hide. He told his story to eveyone. He tried to commit suicide once with a gun to his head and missed. He would sit and show you his scar and tell you his story because his thing is, he never wanted anybody to go through what he went through.”
“He was very honest, even though he didn’t seek the therapy that he should have, he was honest,” she added, also crediting her dad with being a motivating force for her decision to move to L.A .and pursue her acting career.
Unfortunately, Henson feels his mental illness did have a negative impact on her that has shown itself in the types of men she chooses to date, which she discovered through therapy. “In therapy [I learned] why I’m such a caretaker and why I’m always trying to fix, because I was always there to put my dad back together,” said the “Proud Mary” star. “At a young age, that’s unfair, I don’t know, but that’s in me now. I don’t know, I just — that’s why I ain’t married, because I find the men I need to fix. You can’t fix anybody.”
Henson’s relationship with her ex-fiancé, former NFL cornerback Kelvin Hayden, ended in October 2020, two years after the pair became engaged. At the time, she alluded to their parting of ways being due to a lack of equal effort and personal happiness.
“My happiness is not his responsibility, and his is not mine,” she previously told “The Breakfast Club.” “We have to first learn how to make ourselves happy, to make each other happy. So, when one person is taking on the weight of the entire relationship, it’s never going to work. You have to show up, yes, you want to be understanding, but you can’t lose yourself in that understanding. You have to still stand up for yourself and be there for yourself, but it’s hard to do if the other person isn’t doing that either.”
Henson also opened up to Maron about her own mental health struggles, including coming to the realization that her social anxiety wasn’t a result of the COVID-19 pandemic like she’d initially assumed, but instead a side effect of success.
“I didn’t realize that [social anxiety] is what I suffer from sometimes. … It became normal for me. I thought I developed this during the pandemic and the shutdown and when the world started slowly opening back up I was like, ‘Uhh.’ I would talk myself out of going to the store, but that started happening before. Through therapy you start going back in time and realize ‘Oh, that had nothing to do with COVID. I was actually doing that in Chicago,'” the actress said, explaining that her “Empire” stardom made her so recognizable that she had to acclimate to the new level of fame.
Henson continues to focus on discussing mental health issues and the benefits of therapy during the second season of her Facebook Watch series “Peace of Mind with Taraji.”
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