Clark Gregg easily shines on the screen as Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but off screen, relaxing did not come as easily. “During the really stressful periods of work — whether it was a movie with big action, or an emotional scene where you have to deliver, or the nine-month, 22-episode relentlessness of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — I was really okay. But when I would try to relax, I found that I would go into a different space that didn’t feel right. I felt anxious, but kind of disassociated, and I didn’t understand what was going on”, Gregg recalls.
After seeing a variety of Eastern and Western doctors, Gregg had no answers, but was still struggling to relax. After suffering for 5 years, Gregg spent some time investigating his symptoms online and discovered a book that changed his outlook on his symptoms and gave him a way to positively address them. Barry McDonagh’s book, Dare, introduced Gregg to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which centers around developing personal coping strategies to change unhelpful patterns around the anxiety rather than stopping the anxiety.
“Cognitive behavioral therapy was a game-changer for me, and remains a game-changer. I find it calming to know that wherever I am, I don’t have to wonder if I have a pill nearby; I just know I can do these exercises, and it's going to become manageable”, Gregg says. “CBT is really a miracle. I've seen it help a lot of people, and one of the reasons I’m speaking out is that I don’t feel like enough people know it.“
Gregg is working on becoming more open about his mental health strategies and hopes to help others learn about CBT. “…mental health issues don’t always feel good. But they don't have to ruin your life, either — they can really be the doorway to better stuff.” Read Jordyn Taylor’s interview with Clark Gregg on Men’s Health.