Nashville actor Hayden Panettiere has opened up about being addicted to drugs and alcohol and struggling with her mental health before seeking help to get sober.
The 32-year-old, who is also known for her roles in Heroes and Remember The Titans, said the years both before and after her hit show Nashville came to an end 2018 were 'difficult', admitting: "I just needed a break."
In a new interview, she revealed was just 15 years old when someone on her team began to offer her 'happy pills', but Panettiere didn't realise 'what door that would open' when it came to her addiction. She described how things 'kept getting out of control' off set over the years, saying: "And as I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn't live without."
Panettiere began to experience postpartum depression in 2014 after she gave birth to her daughter, who she shares with Wladimir Klitschko, and described being in a 'haze' as a result.
However, in the interview with People and Good Morning America the actor pointed out people were 'more concerned about [her] usage of alcohol than they ever were about the postpartum depression'. She described being seen as a 'crazy woman' or an 'overly emotional female', when in reality Panettiere's feelings were 'out of [her] control'.
She told GMA: "I felt like I was walking blind. And I don't like to ask for help either. I wanna be that strong, stoic woman. But, I mean, when you see a happy-go-lucky girl for years suddenly on the floor in a puddle of mess and alcohol, you gotta know something is wrong."
On her darkest days, Panettiere likened her mental state to having 'somebody taking an eggbeater and scrambling around your brain'.
As well as the issues she was facing internally, Panettiere had to fight to be believed outwardly, saying: "Once you're the identified patient as the alcoholic - and not as a girl, a woman going through postpartum depression - then they don't believe anything that comes outta your mouth."
"It's frustrating. It's heartbreaking," she continued. "You wanna break down and cry, which makes you look even worse. But not being believed, I think to anybody not being believed is - when they're telling the truth - is painful."
Panettiere battled her addiction for years, saying: "I'd think I hit rock bottom, but then there's that trap door that opens."
The actor described how her relationship with Klitschko began to deteriorate as he 'didn't want to be around' her, and that she was using opiates and alcohol to 'make [her] feel happy'.
After being hospitalised with jaundice, Panettiere finally sought treatment at a facility where she found the help she needed. Though she is now sober, she admitted it is an 'everyday battle'.
"It really is. I'm grateful to say that I'm sober today," she continued.
After finding the support she needed, Panettiere expressed her hopes that other women going through the same issues know they're 'not alone'.
The actor explained: "So many women have been in our positions, And if the people around you don't believe you, find somebody who does. Find somebody who can help. Go on a journey of exploration and do whatever you have to do to get yourself better, to understand what's going on inside your heart, your mind, your body."
Following the breakout of war in Ukraine, Panettiere launched a relief organisation named Hoplon International to raise money for supplies, and is now preparing to get back to work in the role of Kirby Reed in Scream 6.
If you want to discuss any issues relating to alcohol in confidence, contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110, 9am–8pm weekdays and 11am–4pm weekends for advice and support
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