shailene woodley secretly suffered invisible but debilitating illness during early s
Source: MEGA

Shailene Woodley Reveals She Secretly Suffered From An 'Invisible' But 'Debilitating' Illness During Her Early 20s

Jul. 16 2021, Published 5:05 p.m. ET

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Ever since Shailene Woodley broke out onto the scene in Freeform's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, she's starred in constant hits, from The Descendants to The Fault in Our Stars to Big Little Lies.

Her seemingly nonstop streak of success is why fans were shocked to hear that during her early 20s, she actually had to turn down roles because of an unclosed medical condition.

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"It was pretty debilitating," she revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. "I said no to a lot of projects, not because I wanted to but because I physically couldn’t participate in them. And I definitely suffered a lot more than I had to because I didn’t take care of myself."

The actress admitted that "the self-inflicted pressure of not wanting to be helped or taken care of created more physical unrest throughout those years."

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The star turns 30 in November, but she's still experiencing a few effects from the ordeal.

"I’m on the tail end of it, which is very exciting," she noted. "But it’s an interesting thing, going through something so physically dominating while also having so many people pay attention to the choices you make, the things you say, what you do, what you look like."

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The public scrutiny and abundance of headlines only made matters worse, as she recalled feeling "so incredibly isolated and alone" at the time.

"It spun me out for a while," she admitted. "Unless someone can see that you have a broken arm or a broken leg, it’s really difficult for people to relate to the pain that you’re experiencing when it’s a silent, quiet and invisible pain."

Despite the tough times, she found a silver lining.

"It made me learn the incredibly difficult life task of not caring what people think about you very quickly," Woodley shared. "The more I paid attention to the noise that was surrounding me, the longer it was taking my body and my mind to heal because I wasn’t focused on myself, I was focused on an image of myself via the lens of everyone around us."


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