Felicia Day Talks Depression and Anxiety in New Memoir: "They're a Part of Who I Am"
"Even just being able to shine a light on the dark recesses of my mind is just enough to stop what otherwise would have gotten out of control in the past."
Felicia Day has many titles: "Queen of the Geeks," the "New Media Maven" and the "Online Trailblazer," just to name a few. But now The Guild creator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural alum has a new title she can add to her list: New York Times bestselling author, peaking at number three on the list.
Day has recently released a memoir titled You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), in which she delves into the story of her journey from a homeschooled girl who started college at the age of 16 to a true Internet celebrity. While the main message behind her book is to "embrace your weirdness," she said the hardest part of her book to write was a very personal chapter about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
"I by no means have shaken all of those things [depression and anxiety]. I think they’re a part of who I am," Day said. "I think that in talking about depression and anxiety, it’s really important to have someone who you see from the outside as being very successful and confident, but if you’re able to peel back the layers, you see that everybody has problems. Success can bring just as many emotional challenges. I think it made people feel less alone."
Day spoke with The Hollywood Reporter just after finishing her last day of a three-week long book tour, where she interacted with hundreds of fans at book signings across the country.
She was pleasantly surprised to hear that readers were moved by her honesty about her mental health issues.
"I’ve heard lots of stories about people who have been affected by reading that chapter, either discovered something about themselves or feel less isolated, and that’s a great thing," she said.
Day said she believes entertainers and public figures have a responsibility in media to represent the wide variety of different voices and human emotions. She said she is proud to have helped others grow and offered advice for anyone who might still be struggling through tough times.
"You want to be in the driver’s seat — not the passenger’s seat — when you go through the bumps. There’s a terrible storm that we’re gonna go through inevitably as people, and the more you can be in charge of the car, the better," Day advised.
In her self-proclaimed "geeky" way, she said learning what occurs psychologically in a depressed mind has helped her take control.
"The process of becoming aware of my brain a little bit more has done a world of difference. When I have a panic attack or feel anxiety, I at least have the [ability] to recognize what’s going on intellectually, and even just being able to shine a light on the dark recesses of my mind is just enough to stop what otherwise would have gotten out of control in the past."
Another key message in Day's memoir is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and to be proud of what makes you "weird."
"I want to encourage people to find belonging in the things that make you stand out," Day said. "Those are actually the things that will help you have success in your career and in finding meaning in your life. You have to find the confidence to plant your feet and not move even though the tide and the water of conformity washes over you."
The idea of embracing her weirdness has certainly propelled Day in her career.
While home schooled in the Deep South, she turned to the Internet, when it was still in its infancy, to find her sense of community through gaming and the digital world. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin as valedictorian, she moved to Hollywood to act.
But ultimately, it was following her "weird" passion for gaming that led to her success. She decided to create her own web series in 2007 called The Guild, which is based on her own addiction to the online role-playing game World of Warcraft. The series took off, and she has since become an online entertainment pioneer. Day launched Geek & Sundry, her own multimedia production company and commercial YouTube channel, in 2012. Legendary Pictures acquired the company in 2014, but Day still retains creative control.
Her 2.51 million Twitter followers and over a million Facebook fans demonstrate Day's success of tapping into programming designed for a niche audience. Day's "geek-centric" shows have helped her become a true figurehead of the "geek culture," and she is certainly taking advantage of this influence to continue to spread a positive message.
"When we feel alone, we are less confident when someone shuns us or makes us feel ashamed for ways that we’re different...but that’s really why I wrote this book in a sense," Day said. "I feel like the more confidence and support we can give to kids to stick to their guns and be the person they want to be, the better they’ll be served in the long run."
Now that her book tour is wrapped up, Day looks looks forward to the next big items on her agenda: writing her own comic book and working on new projects to act and direct in for Geek & Sundry. Her memoir is available for purchase at feliciadaybook.com.