by Francesca Bacardi | Fri., Mar. 31, 2017 12:24 PM
Jonathan Lipnicki hasn't always had it easy.
The Jerry Maguire alum has been open about his lifelong battles with anxiety and depression, and now he's opening up to E! News about what it was like to be a child star while trying to be just a normal middle school student. Before he even knew what was wrong with him, Lipnicki thought he wasn't going to survive.
"My first panic attack I thought I was going to die," Lipnicki candidly tells E! News. "The great thing about growing up is you tend to be able to think things out more and rationalize things. I didn't think I was going to live through the day I had my first panic attack. I had no clue what it was.
"My heart was racing, and then my panic attacks became so bad that at one point in my life I started breaking out in eczema all over my hands because I was rubbing them together because I was so nervous."
Lipnicki says his first attack happened when he was just eight years old, but after suffering in silence for a few years, he learned of "huge solutions" that quelled his attacks: acting and playing sports. "Basketball I fell in love with for a number of years," Lipnicki, who is now a passionate MMA fighter, says. He also got involved in water polo and martial arts.
"It was always something that made me zone out and be in the moment that I didn't have a panic attack," he explains.
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images
Before starting a new middle school, Lipnicki was promoting Like Mike with Bow Wow, giving him one of the best summers of his life. He was starting a new school in the fall and was eagerly waiting to see what cool new friends awaited him. Unfortunately, "it was something I was not prepared for," he admits.
At first, all the attention the young star received was "positive," but it quickly turned into a negative experience. Teachers wanted to separate him at lunch, but he didn't want to feel even more like an outcast. "I felt like everybody was against me," he says.
Lipnicki would often call his mom to help him get through the day, but eventually he made his way into therapy to battle the depression, anxiety and bullying he was dealing with. Another person he has turned to for advice in recent years is former co-star Tom Cruise.
"He can make you believe in yourself like nobody else," Lipnicki says of Cruise, adding that the Mission: Impossible star is full of great advice. "He told me to keep creating. Whatever it is in my life create different things...I'm hustling and I'm a harder worker because I worked with Tom Cruise."
Watch the videos to hear even more about Lipnicki's personal battles and friendship with Cruise!
Lipnicki's newest project, Pitching Tents, is out now.
Watch E! News weeknights at 2am E| 11pm P, only on E!