Terry Crews on his decision to start therapy: 'My wife was gone. My family was gone. And I had no other choice'

·3-min read

Actor and television host Terry Crews opened up about his decision to take charge of his mental health and unlearn past behaviors in an interview with Amy Morin for the Verywell Mind Podcast.

Crews, 53, a former NFL player, revealed that he struggled with the pressures to appear "tough" for the majority of his life, often to the detriment of his mental health and personal relationships.

"For almost my first 40 years on Earth, [toughness] was a battle to get up the earliest, to work the longest, to do the most work. And then I wore myself out," said Crews, adding that the "grind" mentality that comes with working in the high-pressure environments of professional sports and entertainment chipped away at him for years.

"This grind will eat you up alive. It's literally a grinder. And if you have that mindset, it will totally take you out in a lot of ways and you'll be over it before you think you're started. But it can really, really eat you up," said Crews.

The America's Got Talent host said it wasn't until he "redefined" what toughness was to him that he was able to move past the façade he had put on for so long.

Terry Crews opened up about what pushed him to start therapy (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)
Terry Crews opened up about what pushed him to start therapy (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

"I had to redefine what toughness was. Toughness used to be the ability to throw punches. But now in my revelation, it's really the ability to take things, and to really endure the right way and to really just understand your weaknesses, understand your strengths and the wisdom to know the difference in a lot of ways," said Crews.

While Crews currently credits therapy for a large part of his growth and champions it as a "life-saving" decision, he admits that at a point, it was one of his biggest challenges.

"The obstacle was therapy itself. In my community and where I grew up, it was therapy [that] was seen as quackery. And actually doing something to really talk through your own issues, thinking about your own thinking was viewed as quackery," said Crews of the negative stereotypes surrounding therapy in the Black community.

The stigmas surrounding mental health left Crews reluctant to seek help for years. He revealed that It wasn't until his wife left him that he actually took inventory of how detrimental his need for external validation had become. He credits an eye-opening conversation with a friend for pushing him to look within.

"He said, 'Terry I can't promise you you're going to get your wife and family back but you've got to get better for you,' and that was [a] watershed [moment] ... because I did everything in my life for rewards. Everything in my life was based on, if I do this, I'm supposed to get this. If I did this, I'm supposed to get this trophy. I'm supposed to get this money. If I do this, I get sex. If I do this, I get fame," said Crews.

It wasn't until Crews had everything he thought he wanted that he realized how truly empty he was.

"I got the car. I got the house. I got the wife, I got this. And then you point all these things out and intrinsically, you were hollow. And I was hollow. And finally, I was at rock bottom. My wife was gone. My family was gone. And I had no other choice. That whole phrase about you getting better for you meant therapy," said Crews.

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