On therapy, toxicity, and freedom of life choices: Jenny De Nucci always knows what to say when it comes to mental health and the importance of normalizing the topic.
Because taking care of our mental health is the most important form of love towards ourselves that we can cultivate.
We met Jenny at her place, shot her within the four walls of the only home in the world where she really feels free, at peace with herself and with others, brave enough to search for solitude to regenerate, and detachment to cut off her life everything that’s wrong. Among complicated phases, dangerous relationships, and necessary selections in an everyday life where we can’t but get in touch with the most heterogeneous realities and social impositions, Jenny has grown up and changed thanks to a solid support network and mental barrier that have protected her from the threats of a world dominated by social media trends and the religion of appearances.
And it’s “Thank you” that Jenny wants to shout out to that world that has welcomed her, challenged her, made her both suffer and smile, in a journey towards a healing process that promises a new and renovated peace, and a life full of love, to be found and to be given.
We’ve decided to create this format on mental health because we think we can play a small part in helping spread the word and open a dialogue to a point where it can become a normalized topic, and also because we think that your words, as much as they help me when I listen to you during your interviews, also our readers can feel understood or helped, somehow. How important is it to talk about mental health, normalize it and show yourself for who you really are (which is something you do on social media, as well)?
It’s vital for me, in every way. Especially if I find myself sharing my everyday life with other people, for me it’s indispensable that people know how to face a hypothetical panic or anxiety attack, as I’ve suffered from it for such a long time. Now, I’m happy, also because they used to be my ODG, but now they haven’t affected me for a while, to be honest. I’m less happy because these panic attacks fade out the moment I move away from a specific person, so they’re more than an answer in one: they make me understand that such a toxic person who triggers a panic attack in you when you’re 20, is not the best for you.
It’s vital, especially because in this way many young people can face a “new” reality that is therapy. “New” because only recently so many young people are starting to go to therapy, and I think it’s essential for everyone to do it.
I remember when I joined the premiere of “Ragazzaccio”, Paolo Ruffini’s movie where we deal with the topic “young people during Covid”. At the end of it all, in front of an audience of high school boys and girls, I said: “Guys, you must go to therapy if you need it, you have all the right to go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with it”. It’s still taboo to confess that some things need to be fixed in your brain, but I think we can all relate to that. I remember that when I went to high school, and I’m talking about three years ago, everyone had this weird idea of therapy, which is something I’ve never been able to understand: all in all, therapy is a way to feel good with yourself and with others and the fact that it’s a taboo topic is so sad, really, I’m so sorry about it.
Yes, I always say that, if you have a cold, the flu, or something wrong with your liver, you go to your doctor and take some medicine. Therapy is the exact same thing; mental health should be cured as much as the health of our body.
What does home mean to you?
Home for me now is my house in Rome, a place where I feel good. It’s not something to be given for granted: I’ve changed so many houses and other than the one where I used to live with my parents, I’ve never felt at home before moving to the place I am now.
My cat is my home, too, I love it so much, and my parents, as well, and my friends, they’re home to me. Home is all the places where I can find and give love unconditionally, where I don’t feel judged for my actions.
When you feel at home, how do space and time transform?
To be home is restoring. I really notice the difference in the quality of the time that I spend with certain people in certain places, and the key to feeling good is to unlock that knowledge of yourself to the point where you understand where and with whom you feel really all right, like when you spend an afternoon with a group of friends who make you feel good and when you go back home, your social battery is not down, but rather super charged.
“Home is all the places where I can find and give love unconditionally.”
What is it that pisses you off the most?
When someone fools someone else from an intellectual point of view, especially if those who lie are some people you really love, and who behave like they don’t know you and like they don’t know that your brain works very well, as that of the majority of the people in the world.
When they underestimate my intellectual property, in other words, pisses me off because I think that in order to tell certain kinds of lies, you need to be convinced that I’m not able to absorb certain information. Lies that are triggered by the lack of courage, and so the people who, to avoid telling you the truth, beat around the bush: this not only breaks my heart as if a spear had stabbed it, but it truly pisses me off, especially if with these people you have shared a friendship or relationship, and then you see everything going into pieces for a miserable lie, with zero respect for what you’ve been through together. This is the worst.
On the other hand, what’s something you’d want to scream out loud for the world to hear it?
Maybe, “THANK YOU”.
I’d kiss the floor that my feet touch every day when I wake up because I realize that I’m extremely lucky. I know it can be a weird thing to say when you’re 23, but I know so many people my age who are unhappy with what they do and who they are, while I’m very happy, also thanks to all the people I’m surrounded by, both those who’ve trusted me and those who haven’t, giving me a further reason to roll up my sleeves.
“I’d kiss the floor that my feet touch every day when I wake up because I realize that I’m extremely lucky.”
Have you ever felt alone? How do you cope with loneliness? Do you ever search for it? For example, I do, for me, it’s vital to charge up and feel good with others.
You know, I used to not be able to be alone, I just couldn’t eat on my own, or go out on my own, even though I’d been living alone for a while: I’d try to fill my time sharing it with someone else. Then, however, there was a switch in my brain and something changed: I realized that spending time on my own is won-der-ful, and I really believe it.
I wake up in the morning, drink my coffee, feed the cat, read, listen to some music, watch a movie, and order some takeaway food or cook myself: I’m with myself and I feel very good. However, I saw a few memes that I find so funny, describung a typical situation in which you’ve tried “too hard” to protect your mental health and on a Saturday night you’re at home, with your face mask on, a movie on TV, and only a boyfriend and like two friends in your life because you’ve worried too much about cutting bridges with all toxic people [laughs].
It’s all true, I’ve been feeling like this lately (but with no boyfriend), I’ve done some cleaning in my life, a very natural selection, to be honest.
Perhaps, as you’ve grown more quickly compared to other people, you’ve made a natural selection that now allows you to live a better life, I guess: you realize that you spend your time with the people you really want to be with.
Sure, and it’s so beautiful because you really feel good. Now, I love being with people, but after the lockdown, I had an existential crisis, I suffered from anxiety because I couldn’t be with people. Last summer, though, luckily, I found myself again: now I go to the disco, I go out with my friends, I’m much calmer from this point of view.
When I was younger, and I think this is very common among teenagers, I had the visceral need to find my “group”, lots of friends, which is something I’ve never had and for which I’ve suffered more than anything. The friends I had made up a small group, we were four, and those people are still my best friends, although now I’ve moved away from my hometown, so everything is a bit harder. I had a large group of friends in the place by the sea where I’d go on holiday, in fact there I’d feel like Wonder Woman, but now, for example, I have a stable group of six friends whom I meet every week, and I’ve realized that I don’t need to surround myself with a thousand people to feel good, and this makes me happy, especially if I look back to my 14-year-old self who cried every day because she didn’t have “the group”. Now I know that I didn’t have it because I didn’t need it.
How do you live your relationship with your body, instead?
It’s ups and downs, really.
Do you know when some parts of your body are conventionally considered “enviable”? For example, some friends of mine make always such comments about my breasts. While I’m only waiting to be able to do a breast reduction. So, the only thing that makes me feel uncomfortable with my body is my breasts because I think it’s incredibly disproportionate compared to the rest, it makes my back hurt, and sometimes it makes me feel vulgar. I almost feel as if I don’t know how to wear it because inevitably, with some clothes on rather than others, I feel so vulgar and this is devastating, it’s a part of my femininity I can’t fully live. It makes me feel bad to the point where I’ve come to consider the solution of reducing it, perhaps. As for the rest, I feel good in my body and I know that I’m lucky from this point of view, too.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with my thighs, especially when there was the thigh gap trend… At that period of time, I was 13, and I remember well the “problem” that the thigh gap fashion triggered socially.
When I was younger, too, there were several social impositions. However, when I was a teenager, social media didn’t exist, so I was able to skip certain dynamics. Then, of course, I still have my problems to deal with and a long way to go, but this is me, things that probably come from my family or other things, but sometimes I wonder: these 13/14-year-old girls bombarded with things that I see, too, but I’m 32, so they don’t affect me at all because I’m a bit more self-aware, how do they cope with all? Sometimes, I feel sick thinking about it.
It’s terrible, you’re right, also because the younger you are, the more flexible your brain is. Then, you know, beauty standards only say, “your legs shouldn’t touch each other”, which was vital for the 13-year-old me, but now, I say: “I know that for my height, my weight is right”.
What was the best “fuck you” of your life?
November 16th, 2022. That’s all I’m going to say. A date I should get tattooed on my skin because, on that day, I said: “Enough, you’ve broken me”. I felt awful, it was the most difficult period of my life for my emotional stability.
I think it takes courage to move away from something, even though it hurts.
It was like grieving when I realized that that person wouldn’t have existed anymore. But “no contact” was the only way to completely detach. I’ve seen how my face and my laughter change when I go back closer to certain people, and when those surrounding you notice it, too, but don’t have the courage to tell you don’t look good, then there’s something wrong. At some point, you need to love yourself. It’s crazy that you end up like this because of an external person who, in theory, in an ideal situation, should love you.
From that November 16th, 2022, my life has gone back to shining.
Now, I can count the people with whom I want to spend my time on the fingers of my hands, but I really can’t explain how hard it’s been to get to this point. Luckily, I was surrounded by my friends and family, who supported me so much from this point of view. Then, I’m grateful that my peace of mind when I’m alone is immaculate: I don’t feel the need to necessarily have a boyfriend, or do things like a rebound, I don’t feel like doing it and I’m not interested in it, so even the fact that I don’t want to steal someone else’s time only to run away from another situation makes me say: “Chapeau to me!” [laughs]. I’m happy I’m telling you this now because only a few years ago, I would have never said it! Now, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m fine by myself. In order to feel good with other people, you need to be good with yourself.
“In order to feel good with other people, you need to be good with yourself.”
With your job, always playing new characters, I imagine you make a lot of research on yourself, maybe discovering new things. What’s one last thing you’ve discovered about yourself through a job, playing some character?
Yes! One month ago, I discovered I have incredible strength in my body. Obviously, it all came from my guts, from my emotions [laughs]. I had to do this scene where I had to push a very tall and big actor: my character was very angry with him, so I had to punch him in his chest, desperately. I swear it was so freeing that I thought to start practicing kickboxing. So, I discovered I have in my body a strength that didn’t exist before, or that I didn’t think I had. At that moment, it came out before going on scene and punching that poor man, I imagined a certain situation that evoked it.
I also discovered I’m very patient, while I thought I was the most impatient person in the world. And I found I can be very calm, like I am now. I’ve got to a point where I almost touched Nirvana [laughs] because I looked back and said: “But why did you end up like this, you fool?” [laugh].
Maybe I really needed it. In fact, now I appreciate everything more and I feel more aware of my body, mind, and emotions, I can handle them a lot better, which is something that I couldn’t do at all before, in fact, I went to therapy especially for that reason, as I lived my emotions in a way that was too amplified. I was very sensitive from that point of view. So, if it was happiness, I felt euphoric, if it was sadness, I felt depression. But now, I feel better.
Anyway, every time we see you, you always send us positive vibes, you’re such a serene person, you spread positive energy which is never blasting, though, you have it inside. This is what I feel when I’m next to you.
Do you ever write anything?
Sure, I do. By the way, now I’m writing a short movie with a director friend of mine with whom I worked when I was younger, I’m really happy about this.
On a therapeutic level, instead, rather than writing, I record myself talking, like podcasts, which if they’d become public, would be such a mess, so I instantly delete them every time; however, I think it’s useful to verbalize what I’m feeling because I need to listen to myself. At that time, when I felt awful, I would tell myself out loud what was happening because I needed to say certain things to make that step toward the healing process. So, instead of writing how I feel, what’s happened, how I feel about someone, etcetera… I’d give therapy a go.
What scares you the most?
When I hear about young people who suddenly pass away because maybe they’ve had a stroke or a car accident or things like that, I feel bad only to think that a young person abandons this earth so soon. It’s my biggest fear, there’s nothing that terrifies me more than that. For example, Michele Merlo who passed away all of a sudden when he was 17, or a boy from my hometown, who died at 18 because of an unexpected heart attack: these things freeze me, the idea of a life cut short, whether it is my life or that of anyone who would have just wanted to live.
What makes you feel the safest?
What does it mean to you to feel free?
It means not limiting myself as a person. By the way, you can read it on my face if I’m uncomfortable or comfortable with you, I’m a very communicative person and if you know anything about body language, then you understand it.
It’s a very beautiful and very wide concept, freedom, and a very complicated one for me to explain. The only fact that my parents support me for the job I want to do, it’s freedom for me, for example, as much as love is in all its forms. It’s freedom even the fact that I make my own choices, maybe letting my friends and colleagues advise me because I like when people do that, but I also like the freedom of choosing things that my parents would choose, too, because I trust them so much; so, when my choices don’t correspond to my parents’ choices, it’s a gigantic problem because I don’t feel free anymore, I know that then I’ll end up choosing what my parents would have chosen because I’ve always seen them as my “leaders” [laughs].