Last Mental Health Awareness Day, Iza Calzado opened up about her mother’s struggle with depression and her own healing. The actress talked about this part of her life in a video uploaded on She Talks Asia, a women’s movement which was co-founded by Iza herself.
Iza begins by saying that the sharing of this story is as much for her mother, Mary Ann Ussher, as it is for everyone else. “The sharing of this story is also my greatest gift to her. I want to let her know that I am no longer ashamed and I understand her,” she states.
She begins her story, saying “My mom ever since I knew her or could understand things enough, had a mental illness, a condition. At that time she was told she was neurotic. This was the ’80s. She had a temper. They gave her downers. She was misdiagnosed. And eventually, she became manic depressive. And eventually bipolar was the last term, the prognosis.”
“So As a child, I grew up with a mother who was battling this. She felt people could never understand her. People weren’t talking about it. So I grew up with a stigma, ‘Yung nanay ko baliw.’ [My mother is crazy.] I’m sure it was more difficult for her but of course, it was difficult for a child,” Iza continues.
Iza candidly shares that she believes her mother’s depression was possibly triggered a couple of events. The first was the loss of a baby who had Down syndrome when Iza was in her first grade. Around that same time, her mother’s best friend was also murdered.
“She wanted her life to end. She didn’t want to live anymore. I would be a witness to these things. She loves taking downers. Sometimes, she would take a lot, and we had to rush her to the hospital. As a child to see that, there was a lot of shame that my mom is not normal,” she said.
While Iza recalls that there were good days and shining memories of her mother being generous and compassionate, “it was hard because it’s your mom and she’s trying to take her life.” Then when those good days were fewer and fewer in between, her mother was brought to the United States for treatment.
“Her okay times were not so okay anymore. There would be very low moments like she would lock herself in her bedroom and would take downers. That would go on for days, sometimes weeks,” Iza expresses.
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Happy Mother’s Day to the OG magayon in the family! ❤️ Today I remember the good days and how you tried so hard to be the best mother to me and kuya. You were amazing, Ma. Sorry I never had the maturity to tell you this nor the wisdom and awareness to help you through the tough times. I promise to make it up to you by being the best Mother I can be when the time comes for me to be one. Your energy lives on, you beautiful creature you. Love you, Ma. ❤️
(Please Stop Telling Me Prayers Will ‘Cure’ My Mental Health Problems)
Unfortunately, the cycle was broken in 2001 when Iza lost her mom. She recalls waking to the shouts of her yaya, who found the body. “We brought her to St. Luke’s Hospital and I remember being there in the emergency room. We were like, ‘Is it done?’ I didn’t realize she was actually going to do it because there was a point in my life I thought it was an act. I thought it was a way for her to get attention, it seemed like it was.”
Iza shares that for a long time she wasn’t sure about how to approach the subject, especially when others would ask about it. Initially, she was uncomfortable with the delicate topic of mental health but came to realize that she had a story to tell.
“And then I became part of She Talks. I knew I had my own healing journey. As I was going through it together with my body love and self-love, but the biggest trigger for me was when I got married in December,” Iza explains. She recounts the story of her wedding, where guests were under the impression that her mom had passed from cancer.
“It didn’t seem that it was fair to her.” She said, “I feel like I speak so openly about the things I’m going through, how I am. But there’s one part I’m not honest about and it’s a very crucial part of who I am. And the most important part of all is for my mother. Perhaps somebody will find inspiration, hope, and meaning.”
(Need Some Help? Here’s Our Mental Health Directory)
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