Why Chelsea Handler went to therapy after Donald Trump's election and what she says she learned

The comedian had to "dig deep" to be honest with herself post 2016 election.

April 9, 2019, 3:28 PM

Comedian Chelsea Handler opened up on "The View" Tuesday about confronting her brother's death after suffering a near 'mental breakdown' when Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 election.

She said her extreme reaction to the election results prompted her to "really dig deep" and find out if it was something more than politics that fueled her post-election trauma.

"Finally in my 40s, after the election, I took a deeper look at myself because I didn't want to be in such a state of reaction," Handler said.

The comedian said she learned that the underlying anguish tied to many of her personal issues centered around her beloved older brother's death when she was still a child.

Chet Handler, 22 at the time, parted ways with his five younger siblings, including a 9-year-old Chelsea, for a vacation in 1984 and "never came back.". He died after a fall during a hike on his vacation.

Never wanting to be without her big brother, whom she described her "first crush," Handler urged him to hurry back from his getaway.

"He looked me in the eye and said, 'I will never leave you with these people,'" Handler said about the last exchange she had with her brother about their parents. "And he dies. He never came back."

PHOTO: Comedian Chelsea Handler opens up about what she learned in therapy on "The View" with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Sunny Hostin on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
Comedian Chelsea Handler opens up about what she learned in therapy on "The View" with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Sunny Hostin on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Handler thought she "was going to have a mental breakdown."

Through therapy, Handler said, she came to see that the source of so much of her anguish was the childhood trauma of losing her big brother, and that it manifested itself in her reaction to Trump's election.

"I realized what he signified was actually what happened during my childhood when it became undone and when my whole world fell apart," Handler said on "The View."

Handler learned that her "fierce and independent" approach to life -- telling herself she's "strong" and can "handle" her issues without any help -- which she said ultimately pushed people away -- was actually her way of coping with early life trauma.

Handler said that she has since accepted that she "wasn't being honest" with herself.

Another area of her life where she said she has learned to approach with more honestly is romance.

Handler was never shy about saying she's not "the marrying kind," but showed a change of heart in 2016 when she said in an interview that although she used to believe "marriage always encompassed a huge wedding and a huge reception and a commitment lumped together," she came to "realize now that you can be committed to someone without that commercialization and all that nonsense."

In the course of numerous therapy sessions, Handler said on "The View," she eventually overcame her commitment issues and now admits that she wants a relationship.

Handler's memoir, "Life Will Be the Death of Me," is dedicated to her future husband.

"I decided to dedicate my book to my future husband – wherever he may be – so he knows I'm serious about being vulnerable, understanding," she explained on "The View" Tuesday morning. "That I don't have to be some strong, independent woman to... prove myself in life."

"It's not weak to admit that you want to meet somebody."

Every episode of ABC's award-winning talk show "The View" is now available as a podcast! Listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or the ABC News app.