He stripped himself of everything that's expected of a Hollywood star, and shared his true, authentic self with the world. And this included his mother's pain and how it shaped him as a comedian, as well as his struggle with mental illness.
It is often said that behind the biggest smiles, you can find the deepest pain. The tragic death of legendary comedian Robin Williams showed us that the very people who are able to spread joy and laughter can be the ones who hide their misery from the rest of the world. And Jim Carrey, another great comedian who made many laugh till their stomachs hurt, has been quite vocal about his battle with depression and profound views on what the true meaning of life is.
The 57-year-old actor's foray into the world of comedy did not begin with him practicing jokes in front of a mirror or performing stand-up for a bunch of strangers. For Jim Carrey, it began while he was watching his sick mother as a young boy. When he was asked about his unbound talent for physical comedy, he said it was "desperation."
Being the youngest of four children, Carrey was ready to do anything just to make things lighter for his mother. "I had a sick mom, man. I wanted to make her feel better," he said.
"Basically, I think she laid in bed and took a lot of pain pills. And I wanted to make her feel better. And I used to go in there and do impressions of praying mantises, and weird things, and whatever. I'd bounce off the walls and throw myself down the stairs to make her feel better."
Growing up wasn't easy for him and poverty was a part of it. After his father lost his job, he had to drop out of school at the age of 16. "We all got a job, where the whole family had to work as security guards and janitors," he said. "And I just got angry," says Carrey. "I was angry at the world for doing that to my father."
Though his family had almost nothing, he knew that he still wanted to be an entertainer. Carrey struggled for years before his breakthrough in mainstream cinema. There was even a point in time when he was actually homeless, according to Preceden. Penniless Jim Carrey would drive all the way up to the top of a hill and visualize the future he so badly wanted. One day, he wrote himself a check for $10 million 'for acting services rendered' and he put down the date of Thanksgiving 1995, according to CBN. He carried that check with him in his wallet for the next few years and destiny led him to receive 10 million dollars for his movie, Dumb & Dumber, as he revealed in interview with Oprah, according to jimcarreyonline. And the rest is history, as one might say about his success.
He went on to make the world laugh and give Hollywood all kinds of blockbusters. However, through it all, while his success shone bright in front of the rest of the world, depression and trauma were fighting to get the better of him within. Jim Carrey's personal struggles that began since childhood never left him even after the success. But the one thing the actor has always done is talk candidly about it. Much like the art of physical comedy that he had mastered so well, Carrey did not hide even a shred of his struggle from the world.
“People talk about depression all the time. The difference between depression and sadness is sadness is just from happenstance—whatever happened or didn’t happen for you, or grief, or whatever it is," the actor said, as reported by Elephant Journal. "Depression is your body saying f*ck you, I don’t want to be this character anymore, I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me."
When it comes to his characters on screen, Carrey can always jump into one and jump out of one as he wishes. But people going through depression in real life can't switch roles or untrap themselves. However, Jim Carrey also talked about how depression helped him find rest from the character he was struggling to play in life. "You should think of the word ‘depressed’ as ‘deep rest,’ he said. "Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.”
While people desperately try to create an identity that fits into the society's definition of how you should be, as a teenager or an adult, a wife or a father, Jim Carrey stripped himself of everything that's expected of a Holllywood star and shared his true, authentic self with the world.
He reached a point where he was able to say, “I have no depression in my life whatsoever—literally none. I have sadness, and joy, and elation, and satisfaction, and gratitude beyond belief. But all of it is weather, and it just spins around the planet. It doesn’t sit on me long enough to kill me. It’s just ideas.”
He stopped wanting to make himself feel accepted and was ready to show his vulnerabilities. And he urged others to do the same in a speech where, according to a blog on Medium, he said, "...that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world."