Keira Knightley Reveals She Was Diagnosed With PTSD After Mental Breakdown at 22 Years Old

Keira Knightley said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering a mental breakdown early in her career.

Knightley, now 33, broke out as a child star in Bend It Like Bechkam (2002), which put her on the road to huge movies like Love, Actually and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. Along the way, she picked up an Oscar nomination for Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice (2005) when she was only 20 years old.

"That run of films was completely insane," Knightley said of her dizzying early career in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "It's amazing looking back at it from the outside — you're like, 'Woah, that was hit after hit after hit!' But, from the inside, all you're hearing is the criticism, really. And, also, I was aware that I didn't know what I was doing, you know? I didn't know my trade, I didn't know my craft. I knew that there was something that worked sometimes, but I didn't know how to capture that."

The streak of films continued into 2007, when she made Wright's Atonement and Saul Dibb's The Duchess. She was racking up more attention and nominations after those films.

"I actually did hypnotherapy so that I could stand on the red carpet at the BAFTAs and not have a panic attack," she told THR.

When she heard she did not get an Oscar nomination for Atonement, she was surprisingly congratulated for not having to go through another red carpet.

Still, she did have a "mental breakdown" that year and was diagnosed with PTSD.

"I did have a mental breakdown at 22, so I did take a year off there and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all of that stuff," Knightley explained. "I went deep into therapy and all of that, and she [the therapist] said, 'It's amazing — I normally come in here and have people that think people are talking about them and they think that they're being followed, but actually they're not. You're the first person that actually that is happening to!'"

Since appearing in three movies in 2007, Knightley has been pickier with her projects and has felt much better since. In her latest film, Colette, she stars as Gabrielle Colette, the 19th Century French author best known for the novella Gigi. The film has been in limited release since September.

"I think the main thing that I'm very proud of myself for, is I learned my trade," Knightley, who never took formal acting lessons, told THR. "I did it very publicly, but I have learned my trade, and technically, whatever you need me to do, I can deliver it. I want to get better and I'm not saying that there's not a ways to go — I want to keep learning and keep pushing myself — but I'm in a good place where I feel pretty confident about what I can do."


Knightley also stars in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which opens on Nov. 2.

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