Taraji P. Henson recently sat down with Patia Braithwaite of SELF Magazine to discuss a whole lot of things, including mental health, the “strong Black woman” trope, menopause, her support of Terrence Howard and Jussie Smollett, and why she and her fiancé Kelvin Hayden broke up for a little bit.
Finding a therapist to help treat her anxiety and depression
“I had aligned all my chakras, and I still wanted to headbutt a bitch,” she jokes. In all seriousness: “The therapy came into play out of necessity,” she says. “It was [a] time where I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just not feeling like myself anymore,’ and my son was going through his issues with becoming a young black male in America with no dad and no grandad.” (Henson’s son’s father was murdered in 2003, and her own father died in 2006.) “It was like, ‘Okay, I’m not a professional. We both need help.”
Thankfully, it was her co-star and friend Gabourey Sidibe who helped her find the right person, the same woman she sees. She sent an email to SELF about the importance of finding a good therapist.
“It was extremely important for me to find a therapist who is a black woman, just because black women live in a different world than everyone else. Our problems, daily interactions, and expectations are different than most other people, so I wanted a therapist who I could cut through the societal foundation of who I am with, so that we could get to my specific issues. There’s a shorthand between us. We speak the same language because we’re from the same world. She is the most human therapist I’ve known.
“I would get so low, really, really low, beaten, like never before. You may have those days [when] you’re like, ‘Oh, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. I just want to sleep in,’ but you don’t feel heavy. I was just starting to feel heavy a lot, [like] suffocating…. It just came out of nowhere.”
At first, she didn’t think these emotions were related to menopause.
Then she started doing the math: “I’m like, ‘Well, you are pushing 50, girl. At some point things are going to change.’”
On supporting Terrence Howard and Jussie Smollett
“I love like a mother. “If I’m your friend, I can’t judge you. I just can’t. I could do something, and I wouldn’t want you to turn your back. We’re humans. We’re flawed. No one is perfect. I might not necessarily agree with everything, but I think every human deserves some form of humanity, some form of compassion. haven’t really had any backlash. At the end of the day, I can love a person through their flaws, you know? People have had to love me through my flaws.”
On her fiancé
“We shook hands and I swear I heard angels. That’s the joke I tell. But he just felt right.”
“Hayden, who is 13 years Henson’s junior, thought she was a “prima donna celebrity who has her way with guys and moves on,” she says. Henson thought Hayden was a good-looking “athlete who has his way with women.” She started to assume that his proneness to falling asleep when she got home from work meant he was exhausted from cheating escapades. “Whenever he would fall asleep, [I’d think,] Oh, you cheating on me?” she recalls. Miscommunications like these led to a breakup, she says.”
Hayden was able to work his way back into his life, despite Taraji blocking his number and emails, by showing up to her condo and explaining his intentions in front of her family and friends. The move convinced her he was serious.
“He had to suck in his pride and he still didn’t stop. I said, ‘That’s my husband.’”