Emily Weir reveals: “How I learned to tame my anxiety”

“I cannot believe I am where I am. I’ve been on a real journey personally, but I’m happy now.”
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Trigger warning: this article deals with the topic of anxiety and alcohol addiction.

A few years ago, Brisbane-born actress Emily Weir appeared to have it all going on. She’d just landed her dream role as Mackenzie Booth on Home and Away, a show she and her family had watched since childhood.

But behind the scenes, the star tells WHO, she was battling crippling anxiety which had led to an alcohol addiction.

“I was self-medicating with red wine, but I managed to hide it all really well,” she says frankly.

Even as her career was flying, her personal life was crumbling. It was after one messy night too many that Weir says she woke up and had an epiphany.

“I knew I had to stop drinking. It wasn’t serving me well and I knew I had to finally address why I was drinking,” the now- sober and content star says.

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Emily reveals she “knew” she had to stop drinking. (Credit: Instagram)

It’s an ongoing personal journey that has involved AA meetings and regular sessions with a counsellor to curb her addiction and learn to manage her anxiety.

And while Weir says that she’s still a work in progress, she’s passionate about speaking up about these issues.

“The more you shine a light on anxiety and addiction, the less power it has,” she says.

“It’s definitely not easy, but by speaking out, I hope anyone else who’s struggling realises that these issues can and do affect anyone. I’m passionate about shining that light on something that affects so many of us…”

When did you first start to experience anxiety and panic attacks?

My parents divorced when I was in my late teens. Not long after, when I was 19, I had what was effectively a nervous breakdown. I had no idea what anxiety was. Back then anxiety wasn’t spoken about like it is now.

I started having panic attacks, which were terrifying. I went from being the centre of my social group and a real high-flyer to someone whose lights had gone out. It was frightening.

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Emily is one of WHO’s 2022 Changemakers. (Credit: Phil Castleton for WHO Magazine)

How did you deal with that?

Over the next few years, I ignored the issue because I wanted to travel and party with my friends, like most people in their early 20s. I started drinking more at that time because it combated the anxiety and all my fears dissipated. But I became reliant on booze.

What helped you?

After three years of living in England, I came home and enrolled in acting school. My career was starting to go really well, but I was still drinking. It was only when I had that epiphany that I knew I had to stop, so I could learn to manage my condition with help from AA and my counsellor. I feel very lucky to have found the help I needed. There’s no right or wrong way through this for anyone, but I am fortunate that I found a way that works for me.

Emily hangs out on the set of Home and Away. (Credit: Instagram)

And you’re in a really good place now.

I am, and I’m very grateful for that. I’m happy, I’m loving my work – my character, Mackenzie, is on a real roller-coaster ride at the moment, running an underground casino and dealing with debt and gambling issues. It’s an edgy storyline and I’m loving getting my teeth into it. I’m really grateful for where I’m at right now. I’m happy.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

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