As a teenager, the actor suffered a near-fatal spinal cord injury after falling three floors from a window.
Back in 1998, when he was just 19, Orlando was climbing up a rooftop terrace when the drainpipe he was scaling collapsed — and he ended up breaking his back.
“I was very fortunate to survive the fall because my spinal cord was still just intact,” Orlando shared in an Instagram video with UNICEF in honor of World Mental Health Day.
While in the hospital, he was told for the first four days that he “may never walk again.”
Thankfully, after undergoing surgery, he was put in a back brace and able to begin physical therapy. After just 12 days, he walked out of the hospital on crutches.
While his physical recovery was “remarkable and unheard of,” Orlando says it was his mental health that really struggled during that time.
“That was really the beginning of what was a long and painful journey for me into recognizing and understanding some of the patterns that had been in my life that had led me to having numerous accidents,” Orlando said. “And the culmination was breaking my back, which was a near-death experience.”
Orlando shared that “the months after the fall were quite a dark time,” as he was unable to be as active as he once was and was often in pain.
“I would say that for me, the injury created time and space for me to look at my life, recognize what was good and great in my life,” he said. “And the fact that I had this recovery and then build that into the way I live my life.”
Orlando noted that dealing with mental health struggles are challenging because they are “unseen” but can provide an opportunity for growth.
“There is always an opportunity for you to transform the pain, whether it be physical or mental, into the good, great fortune of your life,” Orlando said.
He continued, “It’s so important to reach out to people, to talk to people, to find somebody. In order to create the possibility for communication that leads to transformation and change.”
Orlando says it all starts with “one moment, one conversation” — asking someone, “What’s on your mind?”
You can listen to all that Orlando had to say below.