The Mail on Sunday
Gillian: The NINE ways my best friend and I beat crippling insecurity
SHE IS famed for playing strong women, from Scully in The X Files to DSI Stella Gibson in The Fall.
But Gillian Anderson today admits that off-screen she has suffered from such paralysing anxiety that she has sometimes felt she ‘couldn’t go on’.
Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, the actress says she suffered panic attacks from the stress of having her first child, Piper, at the age of 26 – just as she was being thrust into the global limelight as The X Files took off.
However, she learned to cope with all that life threw at her, much of it with the aid of her best friend, British TV journalist Jennifer Nadel, who also admits to suffering a ‘glorious full-blown burnout’ while home affairs editor of ITN.
Now the pair have written a self-help book, sharing what they have learned from their ordeals.
‘There were occasions when I wasn’t sure if I could go on,’ Ms Anderson tells You. ‘I started having panic attacks on a daily basis, around the time Piper was born.
‘It was a mixture of not having dealt with childhood problems, the work being intensive, living in the spotlight and the expectation on me, as well as not knowing how to get balance or properly take care of myself.
‘The panic attacks forced me to start practising meditation, just to eke out a tiny bit of space for myself, and that made it possible to continue.’
And although she was once voted the world’s sexiest woman, the 48-year-old actress also, surprisingly, confesses to feeling insecure about her looks
She says: ‘For years I was very self-centred and focused on my body, my weight, and it caused so much sadness.
‘That really moves me now, just how much of my younger life I missed out on because I was so focused on my thighs or my outfit; it was such a waste of time.’
It is such hard-won experience that inspired her book with Ms Nadel, entitled We: A Manifesto For Women Everywhere, which focuses on nine key principles for happiness, shown right.
‘You name it, we’ve done it,’ they write. ‘This book doesn’t come from lofty heights; it comes from two friends who have stumbled along together: trying, failing, crying, laughing, learning and trying again.’
‘Focusing on my body made me so sad’