Mental health is not an easy topic to talk about. There is still a stigma around it, making it difficult for those who are suffering to reach out and ask for help. Hence, when celebrities come forward and share their stories with the public, it not only raises awareness, but also helps other sufferers know that they are not alone. Here are 10 Singaporean celebs who have revealed their battles with mental health.
This radio DJ and event host hit the lowest point in her life during the circuit breaker earlier this year.
“I had a lot of feelings of hopelessness. I started to question my self worth and judged myself harshly. I felt truly miserable all of the time and started being tardy and uninspired. I wouldn’t say my behaviour was destructive, but falling off my usual routines like my fitness regime affected my physical health. This in turn affected my self esteem majorly, which fed into my anxiety,” she says.
The 28-year-old shares that she eventually sought out therapy, and that though it’s been an uncomfortable journey it’s been one of the most rewarding things of 2020. In fact, she’s now an advocate and recently partnered with Instagram for #heartbits,a campaign to normalise conversations around mental health and well-being in Singapore, to open up her journey with therapy.
The silver lining she finds in all of this this? She’s now open about needing support and recognises the importance of being compassionate to herself.
“Living with more simplicity has allowed me to be more present, and through that I am able to tune into my needs better. When things get tough I now take my time to process and respond to them instead of simply reacting.”
Also a part of the #heartbits campaign is Munah Bagharib–the actress and host used to suffer from uncontrollable anxiety attacks four years ago.
“There were many things that brought me to that place and the fact that they were adding up didn’t help the situation. These things were related to my own insecurity, stress from not being able to find a balance in life, and sometimes, my view of the world or people. So much of it was in my own head and for a long time. It was only until my partner at that time started to see the signs that I thought it’s something I should take seriously,” she reveals.
The 33-year-old gave therapy a go but didn’t find it particularly helpful. Instead, she found that doing things like accepting help or even picking up new habits helped to calm her mind better. “Taking charge of your mental health and well-being comes in so many different forms. Yes, therapy helps and works for some people, but if it doesn’t work for you, it’s OK. We all have different things that help us connect with our minds better,” she explains.
Now, Munah makes it a point to juggle her time properly and take time to recover when the going gets tough. She’s also working on talking to people a lot more about her emotions and experiences these days.
“I still am quite a guarded person but I’m starting to learn the beauty of listening and learning from others. Sharing stories with each other really helps.”
Local musician Narelle Kheng shared in an interview with local media that she was in a toxic relationship for two years. Admitting that she and her then-boyfriend were still immature, they would engage in poor behaviour such as not allowing each other to hang out with friends. She would also ask him to spend time with her as a form of escapism so that she could avoid dealing with her own insecurities. Although it took a long time after the breakup for her to open up to others again, the experience has helped her to become wiser and she is in a happy and stable relationship now.
The singer also battles with depression, something that she has been experiencing since she was at Singapore Sports School training as a competitive swimmer. As part of her healing process, she accepted her condition such as learning to feel ok about lying in bed for two months, and started being kinder to herself instead of always speaking to herself in a harsh and critical tone. She also thinks that living with purpose is more important than chasing happiness, and believes that we can all make an impact just by being who we are.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
In an interview with The New Paper, local entertainer Irene Ang, who is also the CEO of Fly Entertainment revealed that she attempted suicide thrice in the past. On her last attempt, she had a revelation. If she had the courage to kill herself, why not have the courage to live on to fight another day? After that, she never gave up even when facing difficult times and eventually landed the iconic role of Rosie Phua in local sitcom Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd. Her word of advice to those who find it difficult to cope? “Focus on solving problems one at a time instead of lumping them together. When you focus on the positive stuff, things start happening for you again.”
She also shared in another interview with The Straits Times that finding her passion has helped her to be “less unhappy”. She said, “I am passionate about what I am doing and having found God and a sense of who I am help to alleviate that sense of need and sadness in my life.”