Chris Rock Opens Up On Recent Diagnosis And How It Affected His Life

Jan 07, 2021Peter File
Image Credits: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Famous actor and musician Chris Rock shocked his fans with the latest update on his health. The star now commits to seven hours of therapy a week. "The reality was the pain and the fear that that brought me, I was experiencing it every day." - Chris said. 

Diagnosis from childhood

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And while Rock’s life hasn’t always been easy, he’s still been able to turn his experiences into comedy gold. However, in 2020 the entertainer revealed a diagnosis that had turned his world upside down. The overwhelming news even forced Rock to address some of the emotional baggage that he’d been carrying with him since childhood. 

Something's Strange

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It's something that Chris Rock would never have expected, but a friend of his suggested that perhaps he should go see the doctor, as he suggested that Rock might have some underlying illness. Chris Rock didn't believe that at first, but after some tests and examinations, he was shocked to discover the truth. 

The Diagnosis 

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It went as you would have imagined - Chris Rock went to the doctor, ran a bunch of tests, went through a bunch of examinations - and when the result was released, he was surprised to learn that his friend's suspicion was not the case - it wasn't Asperger’s. But that's not the end of it yet, as the doctor informed him that he did suffer from a condition, something that's somewhat similar to Asperger’s

A Lifelong Illness

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Unbeknownst to Chris Rock, it wasn't something that was developed over time - instead, it was something that had been with him all along throughout his life. He was never aware of it, but the illness was there, affecting him in every single part of his life - it was called nonverbal learning disorder, also known as NVLD. And the discovery of this condition came as a relief for Chris Rock somehow, and it explained a lot about his life. 


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"All I understand are the words," he said. For people with this condition, the effect can vary - for Chris Rock, it was mostly the inability to understand non-verbal cues. For Rock himself, he described it as taking things "too literally" and that he has an "all-or-nothing thinking." This condition affected him in different ways - including relationships. 

The Effects 

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Perhaps it was a blessing and a curse at the same time for the comedian, as he found both a good and bad side to his condition. "By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes — they’re just not great for one-on-one relationships," he added. "Any time someone would respond to me in a negative way, I’d think, 'Whatever, they’re responding to something that has to do with who they think I am.' Now, I’m realizing it was me. A lot of it was me." But how's he doing right now though? 

Going Through Therapy 

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While people with this condition often find out earlier in their life, it is luckily not too late even if they find that out as an adult - with the help of his therapy, Chris Rock also began to understand himself better as a person, and more importantly, finding explanations to things that happened to him. "I thought I was actually dealing with it, and the reality is I never dealt with it," he said. But with the help from his therapy, Chris Rock finally understood the root of some issues and found a way to tackle them. 

Who's Chris Rock?

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Born Christopher Julius Rock, or more commonly known as Chris Rock in the entertainment industry, Rock is an American comedian, actor, television producer, and filmmaker. He was born in Andrews, South Carolina on February 7, 1965, but his family relocated to Brooklyn, New York soon after his birth, a decision that would shape him into the way we know of him today.

An Ordinary Life 

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Like many people in the world, when Chris Rock was a young kid, he would have never imagined himself being a star where his face would be recognizable all around the world. But as life would have it, god always works in mysterious ways - and his family background certainly influenced him to be the way he is today, albeit they were never quite aware of his condition until years later. 

Rock's Family

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In case you don't know - no, Chris Rock was not the only child in the family - in fact, apart from mom and pop, he actually has six siblings in the family. Seven kids! It was a big family indeed, but no one was aware of Chris's condition for years to come. Anyway, for Chris, his mother played a big role in shaping him into the way he is today. 


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They said values are always indoctrinated by parents - which is actually quite true in Chris's case. Rose, Chris's mother, was eager to help her kids to thrive, to give them a chance to lead a normal life, to help them believe that anything is possible given enough work and effort - and that's something that affected Chris Rock to this very day. 

Doing The Best For Their Kid

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Like any other parents, Chris's parents wanted the best for him and his siblings. For that, a good school is always a good start - after all, education makes a person - the better it is, the more the kid would achieve when he grows up. Therefore, with his parents' decision, Chris Rock enrolled in James Madison High School, a famous high school that boasted famous alumni such as Supreme Justice Ginsburg. 

Mediocre Result 

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It requires a quick wit to be a comedian - so it is no surprise to us that Chris Rock is actually a pretty smart person. However, things actually weren't that good when he was going to school - his result was mediocre, or as we call it - not great, not terrible. Years later he would discover the real reason behind this. 

Like in “Vietnam.”

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As an American, Vietnam is not a topic people would take lightly. Therefore when Chris Rock described his school years as "like being in Vietnam," we can only fathom the hardship he went through. It was said that he was too busy trying to avoid a beating to really apply himself in class. It eventually got so bad that his parents had to pull him out of high school, fearing for his life. 

Never Give Up 

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It is years from then that he received a diagnosis that explains everything he encountered as a young man. But even then Chris Rock was no stranger to hardships, as he understood very well at a young age that life wasn't just rainbow and sunshine. But despite all the hardships, he found an escape, a way to circumvent all the troubles, an oasis amidst the hardships of life. 


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Life is not so bad if you see it as a joke - that's actually the philosophy behind a lot of comedians, and for Chris Rock it was no different. While looking for ways to cope with the hardships in life, Chris Rock found comedy. But no, Chris Rock wasn't a class crown as you might have imagined. Things were actually quite different back then. 

Chris Rock's Inspiration 

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Instead of a class crown like many comedians once were, Chris Rock's story was very different - he recalled in an interview that he would be up past bedtime so that he could tune into The Tonight Show, specifically when Bill Cosby used to host, since "he’d do his monologue and he’d… smoke when he did it… He used to smoke a cigar… He was so cool. He was a mack daddy back then." And that changed Chris Rock's life. 

A Difficult Beginning 

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And like many other Hollywood celebrities that you might have heard of today, nothing was easy in Hollywood - like many aspiring artists, Chris Rock started from the very bottom, overcoming obstacles upon obstacles to get to where he is today. And trust us, it was no sunshine and rainbow for the then-young aspiring comedian. 

Menial Jobs 

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It was a tough life, and as an adult maybe you would know the struggle as well - in order to stay afloat Chris Rock had to work menial jobs, just to earn enough money to get by and of course, to pursue his passion. But he was not dissuaded, as he was looking for opportunities to perform whenever he can, even at a humiliating cost. 

A Rough Beginning

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It wasn't easy to start out as a comedian without any contacts - it's one of those careers that you have to find a way to step into the door before you can progress, and without any contacts Chris Rock had to start out the hard way. In the beginning, Chris Rock was earning just $5 for his first paid set at a Catch a Rising Star club. But luckily, lady luck smiled upon the aspiring comedian.

Eddie Murphy

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Come on, everybody knows Eddie Murphy, one of the finest comedians of our time. And believe this or not, it was actually Eddie Murphy who discovered Chris Rock. After seeing Rock's performance Murphy decided to take Rock under his wing, and it was the beginning of Rock's thriving career in Hollywood. 

The Beginning of Rock's Hollywood Career

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With Murphy's help, Rock was able to refine his craft, learning from the master himself - not just that, Murphy also set Rock up for various gigs, bringing him into the world of mainstream entertainment. Back in the 80s, Murphy helped Rock land a role in HBO special Uptown Comedy Express, wherein the very same year Rock appeared alongside his mentor in Beverly Hills Cop II. Things were finally looking good for Rock

The Big Break

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However, Chris Rock's big break didn't come until a few years later - for older audiences you might have remembered the first time when Chris Rock truly came under the spotlight. Yes, the year was 1990, when Chris Rock landed a spot in Saturday Night Live. But believe this or not - it was a miracle that Chris Rock managed to appear in the show. 

Hardships and Struggles 

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It is never easy to be an artist or a comedian - after all, only the lucky few can make millions of dollars, while the rest are always trying to feed themselves. The same thing happened to Chris Rock, where before appearing in Saturday Night Live he was actually hesitant about his career - he was actually about to give up. 

Financial Hardships

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As we said, it's never easy to provide for yourself as an artist - especially if you have a family to look after. The same thing happened to Chris Rock, when his father passed away from illnesses. "The only time I ever wanted to give [comedy] up is when my dad died, and I didn’t have any money. I wasn’t making enough money as a stand-up to help my family," he said. But he held on and made the right decision. 

A Rough Path 

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A lot of comedians would see Saturday Night Live as the jumping board to launch their career as a comedian - and that was the same for the young Chris Rock, he too thought the same thing when he landed a spot in the show. But as time goes by he soon became disillusioned - things were not the way it seemed, and he found himself stuck in a spot where he couldn't progress further. 

Forging His Own Path

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It was only three seasons when Chris Rock decided to leave the cast of Saturday Night Live. He saw opportunities in a show called In Living Color, where he believed can truly launch him to stardom. Unfortunately, the show was terminated not long after he started, and he realized that perhaps, just perhaps, he should start something himself, forging his very own path. 

Rise to Fame

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It proved to be the right decision in retrospect - it takes courage to make a move like this, but it was all worth it in the end. His first movie was the hip-hop pastiche CB4, which he created and starred in and it proved to be a great success; not long after he worked some HBO specials that brought his original materials onto the table, and the audience loved it. But it wasn't just luck that brought him there - it was years and years of hard work. 

You Talking to Me? 

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While Chris Rock is known for his antics and especially stage demeanor, it wasn't all-natural for the star - it was hours upon hours of practice. Back when he was an aspiring comedian, he would set up mirrors all around his Brooklyn basement so he can look at himself from all sides and adjust his movements, just to nail the perfect stance. He wasn't aware of it at the time, but he was actually overcoming a big part of his hardships back then, which he only found out after his diagnosis recently. 

Big Ego and Low Self-esteem

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We believe that this is something we can all learn from the comedian. While talking about his performance and the efforts behind it, Chris Rock talked of his "big ego and low self-esteem" - "the ego gets you out on stage, but the low self-esteem is the thing that makes you practice so much because you don’t believe in yourself at all,” he said. Little did he know at the time that his low self-esteem might not be a coincidence after all. 

The Chris Rock Show

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Things were finally looking well for Chris Rock back in the 90s, as the audience loved him for his original materials. But his truly big break? It has got to be The Chris Rock Show. Not every comedian can have their own show, being the star under the spotlight without having to compete with other stars in shows like Saturday Night Live - but Chris Rock did just that, he had his very own show, named after himself. But it didn't stop there though. 

Memorable Performances 

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Throughout his career, Chris Rock has had multiple memorable performances in various shows. But the most memorable ones for us? It has got to be the Oscars, when he was chosen as the host at the academy awards. It was a big thing for any comedian to land the job, and Chris Rock did not disappoint

2005 Oscars 

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It's Chris Rock we are talking about, so of course we would expect some spicy jokes at his performances - sometimes at the expense of others. In case you don't remember, here is a clip of his opening speech at the academy awards back in 2005. Typical Chris Rock, eh? But interesting enough, it wasn't the only time he was hosting the Oscars. 

Rock's Return

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Chris Rock made quite a stir at the 2005 Oscars with his joke - but the audience loved him, or else he wouldn't be invited to host the Oscars yet again some years later. The year was 2016, more than 10 years after his first appearance, but Rock didn't change a bit with his jokes and poke fun directly at those around him - his sense of humor remained. But behind the spotlight, Chris Rock had been dealing with some personal issues.

Here's the story of Chris Rock and how he discovered a condition that changed his life, and more importantly, how he dealt with it. But the most inspirational part about it? Despite the challenges, he managed to persevere and get to the point where he is today. What do you think about this story? If you found this inspirational, why not share it with your friends and family? 

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