Wentworth Miller, the actor who played the extra-buff Michael Scofield on Fox's Prison Break from 2005 to 2009 and will be returning to the show's reboot, is speaking out about cyber bullying and his attempted suicide after a photo of him became a meme online.
The 43-year-old retired from acting in 2010; since then, with the help of the paparazzi, the internet noticed Miller had put on weight. Soon enough, people were posting pithy comments on before-and-after photos of him, without knowing he was suffering with depression.
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Miller spoke up against the meme his photo turned into and used it as an opportunity to explain his survival story and to provide links to resources for people who might be going through similar situations.
Read his whole statement:
Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.
This one, however, stands out from the rest.
In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I've since written about, spoken about, shared about. But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do.
The extent of my struggle known to very, very few. Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods.
And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time. I've struggled with depression since childhood.
It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through.
There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
And I put on weight. Big f--king deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling.
They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career.
"Hunk To Chunk." "Fit To Flab." Etc.
My mother has one of those "friends" who's always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.
In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do those pictures.
I'm glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle.
My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.
Of myself and others
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M. #koalas #inneractivist #prisonbroken www.afsp.org www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org www.afsp.org www.thetrevorproject.org www.afsp.org
After Miller spoke out on Facebook, the account that made the meme, LAD Bible, issued an apology over Facebook:
We posted two pictures of you last night to our Facebook page, but today we want to say we’ve got this very, very wrong. Mental health is no joke or laughing matter.
We certainly didn’t want to cause you pain by reminding you of such a low point in your life. Causing distress and upset to innocent or vulnerable people is simply not acceptable.
TheLADbible continues to cover how prevalent mental health issues are among our audience, as well as the damaging stigma that surrounds such matters.
We applaud your raw honesty and promise to now cover such matters in the responsible manner that our audience expects.
Responding head-on to our post is something we applaud as it will help others through similar challenges in their lives.
Once again, we got this very wrong, and we wanted to say sorry.