Angelina Jolie may have been a huge star in the noughties, but behind the scenes, she was struggling with severe mental health issues. Now, the actor has opened up about how parenthood has helped her mental health.
“I was 26 when I became a mother,” she told Vogue. “My entire life changed. Having children saved me — and taught me to be in this world differently."
Jolie has six children. Her first, Maddox Chivan, was adopted in 2001 when Jolie was 26. She then adopted Zahara Marley in 2005. In 2006, she gave birth to Shiloh, in 2007, she adopted the three year old Pax Thien, and in 2008, she gave birth to twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline.
In recent years, Jolie has begun to reflect on how her children have impacted her mental health and even revealed that she was occasionally suicidal, but her children gave her a reason to live.
“I think, recently, I would’ve gone under in a much darker way had I not wanted to live for them,” she said. "They’re better than me, because you want your children to be. Of course I’m the mother, and hopefully that safe place for them and that stability. But I’m also the one that they laugh at — and I see them taking over so many different aspects of our family.”
Jolie had previously opened up about her mental health struggles.
"I remember one of the most upsetting times in my life was after I had attained success, financial stability and I was in love, and I thought, 'I have everything that they say you should have to be happy and I'm not happy,'" the actor told ABC News in 2003.
The actor also spoke to The Face the same year, revealing that there had been a time when she had considered hiring a hitman to stage her own murder.
“They’re not that hard to find in New York. As insane as it sounds, I think a lot of people consider suicide when they’re young,” she said, adding, “I was very aware that so many people around me, like my mother, would feel as though they didn’t give enough or do enough if I’d taken my own life."
However, the hitman allegedly talked her out of the scheme.
Since then, Jolie's mental health has improved, but, as she told Vogue, it's a process.
“I feel a bit down these days. I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for a decade, in a way, which I don’t want to get into," she said. (Jolie recently alleged that her ex-husband, actor Brad Pitt, had assaulted both her and their children in the past.)
“We had a lot of healing to do,” she went on. "We’re still finding our footing.”
Working with Atelier Jolie, her fashion line, has been a huge help in looking towards a more peaceful future. "I think part of this has also been therapeutic for me — to work in a creative space with people you trust and to rediscover yourself,” she said. “I’m hoping to change many aspects of my life. And this is the forward-facing one.”
This article was originally published on Glamour UK.