Kevin Smith Reveals Mental Health Treatment After Recognizing Past Sexual Abuse
Kevin Smith has revealed that he took a monthlong break last January to get treatment for his mental health. After recognizing that he was dealing with trauma stemming from childhood sexual abuse and body dysmorphia, which spurred what he described to People as a “complete break from reality,” the filmmaker checked into Arizona’s Sierra Tucson treatment center. Smith said he felt suicidal and asked a friend to help him get treatment.
Smith told the magazine that when he was 6, an older boy forced him into sex acts with a young girl. “When a third party is instructing you to do something against your core values like that, that’s sexual abuse,” Smith said. Three years later, Smith suffered embarrassment when his fourth-grade teacher ridiculed the girth of his stomach in front of his classmates. “I felt disgusting, like I didn’t matter,” he said. “That’s when ‘the other guy’ started to appear. I decided to be entertaining and make people love me before they noticed I was fat.” (“The Other Guy” is Smith’s sobriquet for the outsized persona he built to mask his insecurities.)
While in treatment, Smith learned about trauma, especially when sharing his experiences with military vets suffering from PTSD. “In the beginning, it was tough to share when somebody’s talking about watching their friend get killed and I’m like, ‘Well, my fourth-grade teacher told me I was fat,'” Smith said. “But I learned that there’s no differentiation [between levels of trauma] to the human nervous system. Internally, trauma is trauma.”
In addition to speaking with the magazine, Smith participated in a nearly 35-minute video in which he talks about his struggles.
Smith told People, that therapy gave him the tools he needs for self-acceptance and for coping with his demons when they arise, such as controlling his breathing to stay present. He’s also kicked smoking weed, limited his time on social media, and relaxed his work agenda. “I’m really interested in seeing if I can finally be comfortable sitting by myself and just be alone with my thoughts,” he said.
Last year, Smith told Rolling Stone that suffering a massive cardiac arrest in 2018 also gave him a new perspective on life, as well as inspiration to make Clerks III. “I had a heart attack about four-and-a-half years ago, and that gave me a spine for the flick,” he said. In the movie, the character Randal also comes to terms with having heart attack. “I can’t really technically follow up Clerks. It was made by a kid who wished like, ‘Oh, I could be a real little boy, be a real director,’ and made in the same shop he was working at as soon as the camera’s turned off. So it’s insanely authentic. With the heart attack, I was able to bring some authenticity to the movie that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.”
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