Kim Basinger and daughter Ireland Baldwin are on the most recent episode of Red Table Talk to discuss their struggles with anxiety. 68-year-old Kim reveals that she lived with agoraphobia for years. If you’re a psychologist like Dr. Jada Pinkett Smith, you’ll know that agoraphobia is a rare anxiety disorder where people are afraid of getting into situations where they’ll panic. In many cases, the sufferer avoids open, public spaces and crowds. Kim says she constantly stayed at home, was scared of everything, and eventually had to relearn how to drive. Interesting. Before this, my only knowledge of agoraphobia came from that one creepy plant-obsessed guy from Twin Peaks, and Edna Turnblad (John Travolta) from the movie Hairspray. Edna-John is cured of the disorder via a super fun sixties-themed musical montage. Did Kim try a super fun sixties-themed musical montage?
Kim says she’s struggled with anxiety since she was a kid growing up in Athens, Georgia. She describes her mother as a “dark” woman with her own demons. Lil’ Kim would make up excuses to leave school to be home with her mom “to save her.” As an adult, Kim began struggling with agoraphobia. Kim explains that one day she was shopping at the health food store, and her basket was almost full. Suddenly, “I found something really overcoming me in such a way… that I couldn’t breathe.” She abandoned her basket, made it to her car, and that’s the last time she drove for “six, seven months.” That’s when agoraphobia took over her life:
I wouldn’t leave the house. I would no longer go to dinner. I could not even have people for dinner, we tried that. And it’s really horrible to feel that it won, as fiercely as I did during those years, and not know what is was.
It’s like something just completely shuts down within you and you have to relearn everything. I had to relearn to drive, and for many years i would not go through the tunnels at Malibu. Everything used to make me nervous, like the glass going…[sliding motion] to open the door, or where do I step to open the door? Everything became a big job to figure out how to do it. You live with a dry mouth all the time, you’re very shaky, you’re just so exhausted all the time.
Kim says that some people thought she was crazy or a hermit. This made her feel even more alone, and it was “hurtful and painful.” Eventually, she spent six months in a center for people with anxiety and panic attacks.
When Ireland started showing signs of anxiety, Kim was devastated. Jada asks if it was a “difficult process” to co-parent with Alec Baldwin while Ireland was having mental health issues, adding, “Were you guys able to kind of see eye-to-eye?” Kim raises her eyebrow, and responds, “Eye to eye? Um… no!” Then she laughs, and elaborates:
No, that was not… Alec’s a funny one. Um, you know, we’re all fine, and we get along, whatever. But he’s been- he’s a challenge. I mean, come on. We’ve had our challenges. And I don’t think Alec was emotionally or mentally available for that kind of talk. Alec, you know, operates in a very different way in his life.
That’s when 26-year-old Ireland chimes in:
He deals with anxiety greatly. But he’s someone who grew up in a family that would suppress that as well. Or tell him he’s weak for feeling that way. There’s things that I go to my father for, but if I ever even tried to have this conversation in any way with him, I don’t think he would be able to really absorb any of it, you know, or understand any of it.
He can’t really sympathize as much with it, but it’s not his fault, and he’s gotten… way better. I mean, like, I think he’s really suppressed his anxiety up until recently. He’s really been dealing with things that kind of have been thrown at him. He’s been forced to finally deal with these things.
Ireland also has her very own one-on-one conversation with 21-year-old Dr. Willow Smith. She discusses her experiences with anxiety, panic attacks, and cardiophobia. Ireland explains that cardiophobia is essentially “a fear of my own heartbeat.” When her heart beats fast, she becomes convinced that she is going to have a heart attack. She’s gone to the hospital over 20 times.
Ireland also gets into being compared to her famous parents and trying to be her own person. She felt like she had to be an actress or model, but admits, “I don’t think I ever would have been scouted as a model if it weren’t who my parents are.” Ireland says that she had so many body image and eating issues, she often asked herself, “Why am I even doing this?” She details her struggles with abusive relationships, “self-medicating with Xanax,” and alcohol abuse, and explains how she avoided her parents for a year because she was “so ashamed of what I had become and how i was living.” Ireland says she became a different person: “I was emaciated in every way; I was lifeless.”
Here’s their episode of Red Table Talk:
Most of this is a bummer, but I’d like to circle back to Ireland’s analysis of Alec Baldwin’s psyche. Sweetie? Write a book. Please. About your father’s mind. His generational trauma. His anxiety. His massive ego. Anything that will explain how we got from Point A (Beetlejuice) to Point B (six kids with Hilaria Baldwin). I’m pretty sure the official diagnosis is “assholitis,” but I must know how and why. Help me, Ireland Baldwin, you’re my only hope!