Former child star Jonathan Lipnicki has suffered a “lifelong battle” with anxiety and depression after being bullied at school.
The 26-year-old found fame when he was just six years old, when he starred as Renee Zellweger’s son in 1996 comedy-drama Jerry Maguire. He followed that with starring roles in The Little Vampire, Like Mike, Stuart Little and its 2002 sequel – his last high-profile release.
He was in middle school at the time and, in a revealing Instagram post, Jonathan has confessed he was bullied by his classmates about his career.
Im sharing a little of my experience. It gives me anxiety being this open, but being bullied is a universal problem. I am not a victim, but rather empowered because I was able to turn to my art. I am grateful for the amazing life I have and I hope I can pass on that it DOES get better. As much as it is easier said than done, overcoming being bullied is a reality and I hope this resonates with all of you ❤️❤️❤️❤️
“I was told I was a has-been and would never book a job again,” he wrote. “I was made to feel like garbage every day of middle school to the point where I had a panic attack every night before school, because I wondered how I would get through the next day.”
Following his admission, he spoke to TooFab.com and revealed the bullying sparked his ongoing battle with mental health issues.
“I’ve been in treatment for a very long time because I had a very serious problem with anxiety and depression,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t know how my life was going to end up. It was the lowest point of my life.
“I didn’t go a day without going home and being upset… I didn’t go a day without being called some form of gay slur, or a hateful slur pretty much every day of middle school,” he continued. “People write mean things online, but it never really got to me. It was the face-to-face, ‘You’re never going to make it. You’re worthless’ that got to me.”
He added that teachers called him lazy but he later discovered he actually had a learning disability called dysgraphia, as well as suffering from eczema on his hands due to his anxiety. To deal with his mental health issues, he played basketball every day and recommends other sufferers find a similar outlet to work through their problems.
After the interview was published, Jonathan revealed on Instagram he was nervous because he had never “publicly discussed my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression”. He also thanked fans for their support, adding that he wasn’t seeking sympathy and had decided to tell his story in a bid to help others with similar problems.
Jonathan continues to work as an actor but on much smaller, indie projects