The Relatable Way Gina Rodriguez Handles Her Anxiety

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While from the outside eye famous people appear to be living their most perfect lives, myriad celebs have called the lifestyle that comes with stardom isolating. In a new interview with Cosmopolitan, actor Gina Rodriguez said that anxiety is another side effect of fame that no one tells you about. Rodriguez, who rose to fame with her role on Jane The Virgin, told Cosmo writer Lisa Butterworth that she was unprepared for some of the things that are part of suddenly becoming a household name.

"The anxiety started coming, like, two years into Jane. I had my first panic attack at a sushi restaurant. All of a sudden, I thought I was going to die, and people are taking pictures. It was horrendous," she said. "There are a lot of things in the manual of living out your dreams that you don’t know about. Like you don’t have any more friends. You never go out to eat. You never see your family, your boyfriend, girlfriend, or whatever you have...."

The Golden Globe winner isn't the first celeb to speak out about anxiety. But by adding her voice to the conversation, along with other advocates like Jennifer Lopez who has detailed her own experiences with anxiety, she's opening the door for more Latinx women to take steps toward acknowledging and managing their own mental health issues.

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness said on its website that for a reasons that include lack of access and awareness about mental health and mental health services, stigma and shame, only 20 percent of people in the Latinx community with symptoms of psychological distress seek help from their doctors and only 10 percent contact a mental health specialist. "One in five people is affected by mental illness. This means that, even if we [in the Latinx community] don’t talk about it, most likely, we have one of these illnesses or know someone who does," the NAMI Latino Multicultural Action Center noted.

Rodriguez, who is set to star in the film Miss Bala as a Mexican-American woman who finds herself involved in a deadly drug cartel, told Butterworth that keeping her home free of clutter is one of the things she does to manage her anxiety. With Marie Kondo's book The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and new Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, the relationship between clutter and anxiety is getting a lot of attention right now. While decluttering is not a substitute for mental health care, it can be part of an overall treatment plan. On Psychology Today, Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter explained that cluttered homes and work spaces can contribute to feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.

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"Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important." If you're extremely sensitive to clutter like Rodriguez, having friends and loved ones who understand this can help. For example, Rodriguez noted that her fiancé Joe LoCicero often tidies up before she gets home, and this helps her feel more relaxed.

"It made me cry. I was like, ‘Fuck, yeah. Get rid of the clutter! Thank you, baby,'" she told Butterworth. She also said that being with LoCicero is the first relationship in which she has put herself first. "For so long, I put every man in front of me. As a successful woman, it is so hard because of our cultural norms that, like, the man has to be the breadwinner! And the man has to be the more powerful one. It was so difficult for me to find a man who didn’t want me to dim my light for his ego," she mused.

In addition to finding her voice in her romantic life, Rodriguez's role in Miss Bala is an important step forward for Latinx professionals and for women in Hollywood — the majority of the cast and crew are Latinx and the film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

"I felt very alone growing up. I didn’t feel represented. I didn’t feel a part of the conversation," she told Butterworth. "And if you see yourself projected, you believe you are worthy, valuable. When Holly­wood reimagines films, they have historically whitewashed them. In this case, the American girl is me, a Latina born in this country. I find that revolutionary."

Between her openness about mental health, and her commitment to feminism and representation, Rodriguez is the bright light and role model we need in 2019. "I stand on this [Cosmo] cover with every Latina who wished she saw herself reflected. Because it’s not my face—it’s the 55-million-plus girls who are like, 'Holy shit! We belong.'"