There’s an unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health issues that makes it hard to open up and ask for help when you need it the most. That’s why it is so heartening when celebrities use their platforms to open up about their own state of mental health. When public figures don’t shy away from these difficult conversations, more people may be encouraged to seek the help they need. Also, it reminds them that they are not alone. Here are 9 local celebs that were able to accomplish amazing things despite battling mental health conditions.
Local entertainer Michelle Chong has been dealing with depression from a young age and was diagnosed with clinical depression at the tender age of 17. Behind her chirpy and happy-go-lucky demeanour we are used to seeing on screen lies a long battle with depression.
Luckily, things did get better for Michelle, both professionally and in terms of mental health. She filled the void she felt by and stopped herself from going into that downwards spiral by going behind the camera to get that creative outlet she desired. In 2011, Michelle established her own film company, Huat Films, and produced her first film “Already Famous” as director, screenwriter and actress. On top of that, Michelle also founded Left Profile, an artiste management agency and produces content on her eponymous YouTube channel.
Photo: Michelle Chong/Instagram
Jeanette’s portrayal of an actress who falls into depression after a series of setbacks and mishaps in the 2015 drama series, “The Dream Makers II,” cuts so deep to the core of human emotion that it is kind of unsurprising that she’s had her fair share of mental turmoil to get into character.
In an Instagram post in 2015, the local actress opened up about her experience with depression: “It was a long and arduous journey taking on #ZhaoFeiEr again in #zzsf2 . So many underlying currents that can’t be spoken. It was a very lonely journey that few will understand. At the end of the day, what broke me down made me stronger but I can only say this because I recovered from it. I learnt so much about Depression and even experienced it myself, as much as I was aware of the changes going on within and trying so hard to keep my emotions in check. Even the strongest person buckle at times and most times the simplest act of concern from someone can be the pillar of support and strength during the most vulnerable moments. Depression does not hit only the weak but this is the misconception many people have and they belittle the sadness and label depressed individuals as weaklings.”
In that same post, the actress also stressed the importance of being supportive of those who might be going through a tough time. ”I hope for things to change. If you call yourself a good friend to someone, a family member, be sensitive to the loved ones in your life. Any moment, they could be silently reaching out to you for support, patience and understanding,” she wrote.
Photo: Jeanette Aw/Instagram
The “A Song to Remember” star is an outspoken advocate for the destigmatisation of mental health issues. Recalling the dark time in her life, Eelyn revealed in an interview with local media that the trigger for her depression was the double whammy of her failed relationship with her first love and her mother’s battle with cervical cancer (which was at an advanced stage).Her mother died of the illness about a decade ago.
At her lowest ebb,she was so down, she locked herself in her room for six whole months. Fortunately, she managed to get herself out of that dark place. She found strength through religion, regular exercise, reading inspirational books and listening to “Survivor”, a song by Destiny’s Child.
Photo: Eelyn Kok/Instagram
According to figures from Singhealth, about 10 to 15 per cent of women who give birth develop post-partum depression, a serious, long-lasting condition that’s more than just baby blues. It can happen to anyone. Exhaustion, sleep deprivation and other stressors take a toll on many women.
Yi Fong suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter, Eleanor, in 1999 and has received treatment for clinical depression , sleep problems and anxiety since 2007. The quick-witted actress was able to get back on her feet with the support from those around her, including her fans. In an interview with the local media, she shared that: “ When my depression was at its worst, they would wait for me outside the office with 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates every single day, telling me to eat them and put some meat on my bones. I was really skinny back then, and they’d be there even on days when I wasn’t around. After that, they’d bring liang cha for me when my voice sounded raspy after eating all that chocolate.”
Photo: Quan Yi Fong/Instagram
Life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for the athleisure guru and local actress, At one point,she even starved herself for two weeks because she felt insecure about her looks and her weight dropped by 4 kg. She eventually gave up on the idea because it got her too depressed.
But today, she said she has a healthier attitude. To stay fit, the actress, who is currently in the midst of filming the drama “Jalan Jalan”, makes it a point to maintain a consistent workout regime, exercising at least three times a week. She went on to discuss how she has come to accept herself: “I spent most of my time with family and friends. Their unconditional love influenced and reawakened the love within me and really inspired me to pay it forward. At the same time, I also read stories, quotes and articles and they really helped to motivate me.”
Photo: Dawn Yeoh/Instagram
Working hard for a dream can be utterly exhausting, especially when you are in the public eye, and perhaps no one knows that better than Julie Tan. Today, she may be regarded as a rising star in the local entertainment scene with hordes of adoring fans, but things weren’t always so smooth sailing for the actress.
She was body-shamed online so badly while trying to break into the industry that she even contemplated going under the knife, according to an interview with The Straits Times. Julie revealed in that same interview that she: “had very bad anxiety attacks and during that period of time, I couldn’t cope with the stress and pressure. As much as I say it didn’t affect me, as a young woman, it really did. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I actually hated myself and would start slapping and hurting myself, wondering why am I so ugly and alive.” Fortunately, Julie is now at a place where she has finally accepted herself, in order to lead by example for her fans.
Photo: Julie Tan/Instagram
Fame is highly sought, but the public eye can take a toll on your mental health, as the local songstress has attested. Stefanie told us in an interview that: “There was a period when I was working non-stop and getting increasingly depressed.
One night I couldn’t sleep a wink and I felt a sudden urge to leave everything and escape to Hong Kong.” In that same interview with us, she revealed that she battled with such emotions for a year and finally got over it when she thought about the people she worked with and realised that they work just as hard, but don’t get to enjoy the kind of perks she does. “So what makes me think I was so special, that I was “suffering” more than them? Everything comes with a price, even stardom, so I knew I had to deal with the responsibilities of being a singer,”she said.
Photo: Stefanie Sun/Instagram
Going through heartbreak is a brutal experience, one that could understandably worsen symptoms of depression. On an episode of the talk show “Celebritea Break” hosted by Quan Yi Fong and Guo Liang, the actress revealed the hurt and depression she went through from a failed relationship.
Yvonne shared that her ex-boyfriend reached the stage of “marriage” and even proposed to her. She sunk into a depression and even contemplated suicide after the other party broke off their engagement. Thankfully, she gave up on that idea when she thought of her family. Today, Yvonne is in a happy place and is residing in Taipei with her husband and ex-Taiwanese boy band B.A.D member Alex Tien and two kids.
If you think you may have the symptoms of mental illness or want to find out more, you can visit sites like Singhealth and the Institute of Mental Health. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or know someone who is thinking about suicide, you can contact the Samaritans of Singapore at 1800-221-4444 for help.
Photo: Yvonne Lim/Instagram