Kristen Bell ruled the 2000’s. No doubt about it. From being the eponymous voice of Gossip Girl, to sleuthing it out as teen detective Veronica Mars. Even when she became a mother of two, there was no rest for the actor. Bell’s natural cheerfulness cast her as the *perfect* voice of Princess Anna in Disney’s Frozen — every child’s favourite movie to rewatch on long car rides.
But as with all true artists, there is more to Kristen Bell than meets the eye. Behind the Hollywood star with the bubbly aura is a real person, coping with real-world problems… Heady stuff that anyone could suffer from, such as severe depression and anxiety. Even worse than the Bad Place, methinks!
Kristen has been open about seeking therapy and taking antidepressants. But here’s a secret that you don’t know… In an episode of the Hypochondriactor podcast, Bell revealed that she also takes psilocybin — the trippy compound in magic mushrooms and truffles!
Growing Up with Anxiety
“I wasn’t suicidal…. It was just a generalized dark cloud over me. I felt like my real personality was in a tiny cage inside my body.”
Kristen was born in Detroit, Michigan to Lorelei, a registered nurse, and Tom, a TV news director. Growing up, it was clear that Kristen had caught the performing bug — and got her first acting agent when she was 14. She is also a trained soprano. As for her childhood? She recalls it being quite “happy”.
The actress first had anxiety and depression when she left for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Shortly before the big move, Kristen heard that her best friend Jenny DeRita was killed in a car accident. The death scarred Kristen for life.
“Anxiety and depression? I guess I was about 19. And my mom — who experiences it as well, she’s a nurse — had some really great grounding things about the topic in general. And she said, ‘Look, I suffer from this. It’s called a serotonin imbalance. I wish I could control it, but I can’t. I take medication for it. And I just want you to know if you start to have these feelings…there are so many options for you.”
No Shame in Seeking Help
Kristen’s mom told her about how mental illness can be inherited — but is also not necessarily a “curse”. There are tons of tried-and-tested ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. One of them is taking prescribed meds… paired with talk therapy.
“And she also said, ‘Make sure you never feel shame, should you be prescribed something, because… Would you ever tell a diabetic *not* to take their insulin? And I was like, oof.”
In her late 20s, Kristen began reading about popular science. While she looked at a few studies on the mind, she stumbled upon a theory. Stuff like getting off an antidepressant or antianxiety for good… because your so-called “muscle memory” takes over. Did it work?
“I tried that. It worked for about a year. And after a year I got those symptoms again. And I was like, you know what? If I have to take medication, I have to… I had a blood panel done. My levels were fine. I also eat nothing but rabbit food! Green vegetables all the time.”
Despite a vegan lifestyle with plenty of exercise, Kristen still got depressed and anxious. Meds weren’t enough. Pills didn’t always work. And just when it all seemed so hopeless, she met Dax Shepard — a psychonaut, fellow actor, and her future partner in crime.
How to Change Your Mind
When asked about her first encounter with magic mushrooms and meditation, Kristen replied:
“My husband and I went to T.M. (Transcendental Meditation) classes before the kids were born. We loved it… I do feel great when I do it. I rely on a lot of those techniques…to really ground me. And then [last year I read] Michael Pollan’s book, ‘How to Change Your Mind’. And I was slack-jawed.”
Michael Pollan goes into detail about the “underground community” of both academics and regular psychonauts. These folks continued to study the effects of LSD and psilocybin on so-called healthy ‘normals’. Reading the book helped to change Kristen’s mind on “trippy” drugs… which are NOT just for partying! She says:
“There are aspects to those two particular drugs that the places you can go in your brain are…sort of deeper and more healing than anything else, you know? It’s not like alcohol.”
First Shroom Trip
So what was Kristen’s first magic mushroom trip like?
“I was really interested in doing mushrooms… to try some psilocybin. To feel what kind of doors open. Have a trip that was my own. And they talk about Set and Setting, how to make it comfortable. And I am very lucky to be married to an ex-drug addict. Not only did he know where to get the mushrooms… He babysat me. It was for my birthday.”
‘Babysitting’ or guiding a novice (or any person, really) during a trip is called “trip sitting”. They help you get in the right mindset (Set) and a comfy place to trip in (Setting). A trip sitter stays sober and alert for the whole time… Sorta like having a psychedelic lifeguard, or a designated driver.
“I said, ‘I really would like to experience this. I’m not gonna *party* with it, but I want to know what this feels like. I want to talk while I’m doing it, and I want you to talk to me’. He took me on a walk around the neighborhood… It was so lovely.”
“I was so enamored with my own body… I had gone to the bathroom. Coming downstairs wide-eyed, I said, ‘Dax. I had to pee. I felt the sensation of having to pee. And all of a sudden, this beautiful lady (and I was pointing to my legs) picked me up down the hallway…
“She sat me down on the toilet, rolled toilet paper for me, and just put it in my lap till I was done peeing. Then she wiped me, flushed the toilet, and now I’m back here!”
Out-of-body experiences are likely to occur when you take shrooms or truffles at a strong dose. There is a change in your “body sense” by way of vibrations (a.k.a. tingling). So some trippers feel smaller or larger. While others feel several pounds lighter or heavier. For Kristen, it was like watching her body move on its own… like a driverless car.
“In my head, I had separated this body that had done so much good in my life, that has taken me through happiness and pain and workouts and laziness.
“I couldn’t stop touching my legs and go, ‘You’re so strong. You’re so elegant.’”
Shrooms: The Good Place
Kristen’s sensitivity has given her juicy, complex roles, both in film and TV. Most recently, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Eleanor Shellstrop in NBC’s The Good Place. And like any good actor, Kristen often “disappears” into her character’s persona — a method that does take its toll on her mental health:
“I do think that’s true. I’m an empath. I often have a problem delineating…what your emotions are and what my emotions are… I can’t even control it… taking on a lot of other people’s anxiety.”
Sounds like a doozy… Thank god for magic mushrooms and talk therapy! Right now, psilocybin is banned as a Class A substance in many places. Some U.S. states are definitely on track to decriminalise shrooms — like the upcoming vote in California, for instance. Just imagine! Psilocybin could be widely available to you sooner, rather than later. (Sunny days ahead? Woot woot!)
So what is the Good Place alum up to these days?
“I love rescuing dogs. Dogs are nature’s antidepressants.”
Them and shrooms — right Kristen? 😉
Make like Kristen and introduce psilocybin into your life! Click on the pic here for everything you need!