Kathryn Lindsay
March 29, 2016 11:09 am
Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

Wentworth Miller is known for his gruff, intimidating and super-fit character from the show Prison Break. But actors aren’t their characters and, more importantly, people change. However, when someone on the Internet found a photo of Wentworth looking different than they expected, this person created a totally inappropriate meme fat-shaming the actor for gaining weight.

Wentworth himself got wind of the cruel meme and made a powerful statement on Facebook yesterday about mental health and bullying:

He began by explaining what happened in his life between the two photos. “In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low profile for a number of reasons,” he writes. “First and foremost, I was suicidal.”

This is likely a bombshell for fans. Mocking people online their appearance is never OK for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is that we never know what’s happening behind the scenes in anyone’s life. Everyone has their own struggles, and especially when it comes to depression, which is not as visible as other illnesses, this type of abuse can have a serious affect. And for Wentworth Miller, it did.

“In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food,” Wentworth continued. “It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to.”

While out for a hike in 2010 after he had gained weight, paparazzi circled the actor and took photos of him. He wrote on Facebook:

Wentworth’s mother was actually the one who alerted him to the pictures pointing out his weight gain. “In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed,” he revealed in the Facebook post. “Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I’m glad.” He explained that the memes — as cruel as they are — are a reminder of how much he has overcome.

He wrote:

He ended his Facebook post with links to various mental health resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and encouraged anyone who needs it to reach out for help.

Wentworth Miller’s resilience, bravery and his perspective on forgiveness is really inspiring. People don’t often think about the real, live humans who are the subject of hurtful memes and it’s incredible for him to not only acknowledge the pain he felt, but to open up about his personal life struggles. Sharing his mental health battle at the time makes the utter wrongness of these cruel memes hit home in a such a powerful way.

There will (unfortunately) always be people who tear others down, especially behind the anonymity of the Internet. But we can fight them with love and acceptance of ourselves and other people — and by supporting people like Wentworth Miller for their bravery and strength.