Andie MacDowell health: ‘It’s in your bones’ – star’s condition is ‘hard to get rid of’

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The Netflix show focuses on young mother Alex – played by Andie’s real-life daughter Margaret Qualley – fleeing an abusive relationship and finding a cleaning job to provide for her child. Andie’s character Paula is an undiagnosed bipolar sufferer who is a mystery to her daughter Alex. Speaking about her role Andie said that it was her daughter who had first suggested her for the role due to her own “personal experiences with mental instability.”

Similarly to the character she plays Andie’s mother also suffered with bipolar – a mental health disorder that affects your moods. Bipolar sufferers can swing from one extreme to another from depression to mania.

Talking to Brief Take Andie said: “I have a deep empathy for people that have this complexity about their personality because you can’t really do anything about it, it is just who they are and that’s how Paula is.

“I understand from personal experiences that that’s a dynamic that can happen with mental illness but I think for Paula it’s just that she doesn’t feel complete without a man, she doesn’t feel worthy or enough.

“So that deep desire of constantly needing a man to fulfil her own sense of unworthiness.”

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Due to Andie’s mother’s condition, the actress suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has to relive her childhood trauma that she sadly is still not over.

On this she said: “I’m still working on my anxiety, it’s hard to get rid of so much PTSD. It’s in your bones and it’s in your nervous system for sure.”

Talking to The Guardian the star revealed a small insight into what her childhood was like. She recalled incidents where she would wake up in the middle of the night and ensure that her mother’s cigarettes were properly put out.

Andie said: “here were burn marks all over the floor and on the couch; it’s amazing we didn’t burn down.

“That’s a lot of responsibility for a child, I say. I think I’ve felt responsible all my life.”

Despite feeling down about her past demons, Andie uses it to “tap into” characters like Paula.

In addition she doesn’t hold any resentment towards her mother, instead blaming the “awful disease” that is alcoholism.

The actress said: “I don’t have a lot of anger, I have a lot of compassion. Poor thing. I always felt loved.”

PTSD is a common condition for those who have experienced trauma in their lives. The NHS explains that that the condition is a type of anxiety disorder and individuals will often relive traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks.

Due to this they might have problems sleeping and find concentrating difficult too. Severe symptoms will have a significant impact on an individual’s day-to-day life.

The condition can develop immediately after someone experiences disturbing events or it can be years before symptoms show.

According to the NHS, PTSD is estimated to affect about one in every three people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.

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No matter when the condition appears there are success treatments available. After speaking to a medical professional you will usually be referred to a mental health specialist for further assessment and treatment.

Any treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and how soon they occur after the traumatic event.

Any of the following treatment options may be recommended:

  • Watchful waiting – monitoring your symptoms to see whether they improve or get worse without treatment
  • Antidepressants
  • Psychological therapies – such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).

Therapy as a treatment will allow you to work on the way you think and act and help you come to terms with the traumatic event. EMDR involves recalling the traumatic incident in detail while making eye movements, usually by following the movement of your therapist’s finger – which has been found to reduce symptoms.

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