Actress Katherine Heigl discussed her experience with being called “difficult” and “hard to work with: throughout her career – and how it affected her mental health.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Heigl expressed anger at being labeled negatively.

“I may have said a couple of things you didn’t like, but then that escalated to ‘she’s ungrateful,’ then that escalated to ‘she’s difficult,’ and that escalated to ‘she’s unprofessional,'” Heigl said. “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don’t like? Now, I’m 42, and that s— pisses me off.”

Heigl’s negative reputation started during her time on the TV drama, Grey’s Anatomy. Heigl’s starred on the show from 2005-2010, even winning an Emmy for her performance as Izzie Stevens in 2007. She quickly gained a reputation for being unpleasant to work with, a notion confirmed by Grey‘s creator Shonda Rhimes herself.

In 2008, Heigl withdrew herself from Emmy considerations because she did not feel that the material she was given that season was worthy of an Emmy nomination. In 2009, she complained about working a 17-hour day and blamed producers for the schedule.

Heigl said the backlash she received after these incidents and the reputation that followed was unwarranted.

“At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the f— up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it,” said Heigl “The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.” 

Heigl said that she called this period of her life “the shunning” and her mental health took a toll. She said she suffered from severe anxiety.

“I asked my mom and my husband to find me somewhere to go that could help me because I felt like I would rather be dead,” said Heigl. “I didn’t realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help. You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I’m a big fan of Zoloft.”

Heigl added that she thinks her family members were scared for her at the time. She said she regrets scaring them, but she didn’t have “the tools” to help herself.

“It took me a long time to feel confident enough to read their comments (on social media) because I just assumed the worst,” she said. “Now, it feels like a little community. I’ve tried to rebuild that trust with my fans through social media, show them more of who I am off camera.”

Heigl said she now tries to be gentle with herself and she recognizes that it is ok to be ambitious.

“I’ve grown into accepting that ambition is not a dirty word, and it doesn’t make me less of a feminine, loving, nurturing woman to be ambitious and have big dreams and big goals,” she said.

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