When Ariana Madix joined the cast of Vanderpump Rules in its second season, the show had already developed into one of the most buzzed-about reality shows on television.
Still in her twenties at the time, Ariana entered a high-pressure world where hardy-partying and all manner of bad behavior were not only tolerated but encouraged.
In other words, it was the worst possible environment for someone who was already struggling with mental health issues.
In a new interview for co-star Scheana Shay’s “Scheananigans” podcast, Madix opened up about her early days on the show and revealed that she was struggling with an eating disorder at the time.
“I’ve grown in literal size, but I don’t care as much,” Madix said.
“I started the show, I feel like, with, like, a full-blown eating disorder.”
Ariana went on to say that her situation has improved considerably thanks to years of therapy.
“I feel like I have some tendencies toward disordered eating, but at least I’m more now conscious of it and will fight against it to be healthy,” she said.
“Whereas in the past I was like, ‘Just don’t eat, just don’t eat.’ And that was bad.”
During her years on Vanderpump, Madix has become an advocate for mental healthcare, as well as an inspiration to viewers who have struggled with issues similar to her own.
Ariana’s candid discussions of her struggles with depression and anxiety have helped to elevate Vanderpump above the level of the typical high-drama Bravo fare.
“I’m considering driving off the f—ing freeway bridge when I’m driving home at night,” she memorably confessed to costars Lala Kent and Stassi Schroeder during one harrowing scene from a 2020 episode of Vanderpump.
“I don’t talk to you guys about that stuff … because it’s not safe. It’s not safe.”
Later in that same episode, Madix confessed to boyfriend Tom Sandoval that she often feels overwhelmed with a desire “to leave my life.”
Thankfully, Ariana says she’s experienced an overall improvement in her mental state over the course of the past year.
“I think that recognizing it as a thing and allowing it to be what it is has definitely helped with getting better or at least dealing with it as it comes in those waves, those ups and downs,” she told Scheana this week.
“[My depression] was probably always there a little bit under the surface, but I would fight against it so hard because I didn’t know what to call it,” Madix continued.
“Putting a name to it has allowed me to be like, ‘Right, because this isn’t me, it’s separate from me, but it’s there.'”
While Vanderpump has been criticized for the more problematic behavior of its cast — including the race scandal that got Jax Taylor and others fired from the show — Ariana has long been praised for her willingness to bring these issues to the forefront.
For years, Madix’s refusal to be tied down has endeared her to fans, so it remains unclear what the future holds for the bartender-turned-sandwich shop owner.
But with any luck, Vanderpump viewers will continue to benefit from her experienced perspective for many seasons to come.