Along with Lil Nas X, Ryan Reynolds was also named one of WSJ. Magazine’s Innovators of the Year. In a relatively short amount of time, Ryan Reynolds has gone from actor to entrepreneur. Yes, of course, he’s a movie star and a producer, but he also has his own gin, his own mobile phone company, his own multi-media company, his own football club, and he launched a diversity initiative… and there’s something else I’m probably forgetting, because he’s been doing the most. And, again, it hasn’t actually been that long since he started growing his empire. 


Ryan was at the WSJ event last night but last week he and Wrexham AFC co-owner Rob McElhenney were in Wales visiting their club for the first time since they took over last year. Since that announcement people have been joking about them being the real life Ted Lasso, and there’s a docuseries in the works about their experience, but this isn’t a frivolous endeavour. They’re serious about investing in a future championship and also in the community. With humour, always humour. Did you see this? Ryan and Rob did a press conference while they were there and….


Ryan recently wrapped on several months of shooting with Will Ferrell on Spirited, which is due out next year. On Instagram he said that he’s taking a “sabbatical from movie making”. Understandable considering everything else he has going on. But with all the things he has going on, he’s also talked about anxiety. Anxiety came up in his WSJ interview too:

"I tend to pave over anxiety with work and, to a lesser extent, achievement. I tend to bite off way more than I could or should chew. I think maybe it's just that Canadian sensibility: 'Well, I said I was going to, so I have to deliver this. I will do that at the cost of my own well-being sometimes. I fixate on things...That's sort of the engine of anxiety. I lay awake at night, wrapping and unwrapping every possible scenario. You want to tick boxes sometimes. So these days, my goal is to be as present as I can and not just tick a box just to do it. I'm fully embracing and living that right now. It's been amazing."


Back in May, Ryan posted about anxiety at the end of Mental Health Awareness month. Anxiety affects different people in different ways. For Ryan he takes on more, he over-everythings: overworks, over-schedules, over-commits. For my husband, anxiety turns him into an obsessive, particularly about health. At the beginning of this year, Jacek experienced an anxiety spiral for the first time. Here’s a guy who’s been pretty steady his entire life, like the most level dude I’ve ever met, and then, after a year of pandemic and stress, week by week starting in January he got worse and worse. Every day there was something wrong, a new pain – in his neck, his arm, his leg, and the more he angsted about it, of course he felt more terrible. And at the time, he refused to accept it was mental health. He really thought he was dying. 


It got so bad that the morning after the Golden Globes, after an all-nighter, and when our province was experiencing one of the worst spikes in COVID cases, I had to take him to the hospital because he thought he was dying of heart disease. He packed his bag and he put all his affairs in order and he said goodbye to me like he was sure he wouldn’t be home for a long time. Did I know that what he was actually going through was a panic attack? Yes. But it was impossible to tell him that in the moment. He felt what he felt and he believed what he believed. And it was only when they ran all the tests on him and they came back fine and the doctor told him about anxiety and how it works was he willing to entertain the possibility that it was mental health. 

And I appreciate that doctor so much because she told him that the chest pain was real, that the leg numbness was real, that everything he felt was real – it’s just the cause of it that he had to begin to understand. 

We have since learned that Jacek has anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder and we’re working on managing it now that we’re heading into the winter months. But my point in telling you all this off of Ryan Reynolds’s story is that for a lot of people, even if they participate in the world and have a certain amount of awareness, sometimes it’s theoretical… until it’s personal. And it’s become personal for almost all of us. It might be one of the few areas we all connect – whether it’s a celebrity or a civilian or an adult or a child.