“Jim Carrey doesn’t exist.” — Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey, the A-list Hollywood actor and comedian, and star of hit movies like The Mask, Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty, first alluded to his battle with depression way back in 2004. Speaking then to CBS News, he said, “there are peaks, there are valleys. But they’re all kind of carved and smoothed out, and it feels like a low level of despair you live in. Where you’re not getting any answers, but you’re living OK. And you can smile at the office. You know? But it’s a low level of despair. You know?”
In a more recent 2017 interview he revealed that his depression “doesn’t stay long enough to immerse me” any more. “At this point, I don’t have depression,” Carrey said. “There is not an experience of depression. I had that for years, but now, when the rain comes, it rains, but it doesn’t stay. It doesn’t stay long enough to immerse me and drown me anymore.” And, therein lies his interesting journey of battling with and overcoming the demon of depression and how his perspectives on that disease and indeed on life itself have undergone a sea change over the years.
Carrey, as a child, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This meant Carrey was unable to focus and pay attention. He was continually active and was unable to sit still for any length of time. The ADHD may have been the driving force behind his depression.
Jim Carrey’s views on depression are interesting to say the least. Jim feels that, “People talk about depression all the time. The difference between depression and sadness is sadness is just from happenstance—whatever happened or didn’t happen for you, or grief, or whatever it is. Depression is your body saying f*ck you, I don’t want to be this character anymore, I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me. You should think of the word ‘depressed’ as ‘deep rest.’ Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.”
Despite huge success as an actor and comedian, Jim Carrey suffered from bouts of depression on and off throughout his career. He claims he no longer has depression, but he did take Prozac (fluoxetine) at one point in time to treat his symptoms of depression. But, he said that taking Prozac made him feel like he lived in a “low level of despair”. Hence, he despaired of taking any mind-altering substance, and even gave up coffee and alcohol because of their harmful and undesirable effects on the brain.
Sometime during these trials and tribulations he even turned to spirituality, reading and endorsing the likes of Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and Jeff Foster. Jim Carrey understood through Eckhart’s teachings that his own suffering came from fixating on thoughts. Eckhart is the author of the best-sellers The Power of Now and A New Earth. Eckhart, who was born in Germany and now lives in Canada, teaches that we indulge in obsessive thinking by living in the past and worrying and dreaming about the future. Eckhart explains in his books that acceptance of “what is” and “living in the now or present moment” are the solutions to all our anxieties, fears, worries, and unhappiness. After years of seeking, Carrey finally had his spiritual breakthrough, a moment of enlightenment in which he realized that “heaven” is found right here in the present moment. And having had his own breakthrough, he now says, “I want to take as many people with me as I can!”
Jim Carrey went through a huge spiritual awakening during his career once he realized that money and fame didn’t bring lasting happiness and certainly did not help cope with depression. As he put it, “The feeling of wholeness is a different feeling than me-ness. To feel whole, we must let go of trying to maintain an image of ‘me.’ … I believe that I had to become a famous idea, and get all the stuff that people dream about and accomplish a bunch of things that look like success in order to give up my attachment to those things.”
The turning point in Jim Carrey’s life came when he saw that after attaining all these material things, he still didn’t truly feel happy. This made him realize that we go after happiness the wrong way: we already have everything we need within us, but we forget about that in our search for it.
Here is how Jim Carrey characterizes what he understood along the way: “As an actor, you play characters, and then if you go deep enough into those characters, you realize that your own character is pretty thin to begin with. Suddenly you have this separation and go, ‘Who’s Jim Carrey? Oh yeah, he doesn’t exist.’ There’s just a relative manifestation of consciousness appearing, and then somebody gave him a bunch of ideas; a name, a religion, and a nationality, and he clustered those together into something that is supposed to be a personality. Ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through it. All else is just smoke and mirrors. Distracting, but not truly compelling. I believe that I got famous so that I could let go of fame. It’s still happening, but not with me. Dressing happens, hair happens, interviewing happens, and it happens without me. Without the idea of me. There’s just what’s happening, and it’s not personal. The difference between money and ‘my money’ is a gigantic chasm. It feels like things are just happening, and they are going to happen whether or not I attach myself to it or not. I want to relate what this is to people so that maybe they can also glimpse the abyss. It sounds scary, but it’s not. There’s gratitude. There’s wonder. There’s excitement. And it’s all rising out of nowhere and happening for no one.”
When it comes to the present, Jim Carrey says, “I have no depression in my life whatsoever—literally none. I have sadness, and joy, and elation, and satisfaction, and gratitude beyond belief. But all of it is weather, and it just spins around the planet. It doesn’t sit on me long enough to kill me. It’s just ideas.” We are glad to hear that, Jim. May you stay that way always.