Isabelle Daza made rounds over social media this past weekend not as an influencer but as a mental health advocate. She shared a video of herself discussing the importance of talking about mental health, the effects of social media on our mental health, and what we should be doing about it.
The 30-year-old shared about how people opened up to her about their mental illnesses and found that they are all too ashamed to speak up, to ask for help.
“I don’t know what it was about me that they felt the need to share, to open up, and I kept thinking, ‘Why are you ashamed if you need help?’” she said.
Isabelle admitted that she was at a lost at what to do with everyone’s stories, didn’t even understand why they were all telling her, but her husband Adrien Semblat gave her something to think about.
“Adrien, my husband, said, ‘You don’t know why they’re telling you? Because you asked them how they are and they share and you listen to them.’ And I didn’t know what that meant, listening to them,” she said.
Despite not having been diagnosed with a mental illness herself, she believes that anyone can be sensitive to the plights of others as she has learned to be. Isabelle emotionally declared in her speech that, “I want to remove the stigma that mental illness, anxiety, depression, is something we need to be ashamed of. I want to be a voice of my generation and to be heard that this is an epidemic.”
Read Isabelle’s full speech below:
“In the past few months, maybe it’s because I just gave birth, so a lot of people have been reaching out to me thinking that maybe I’m going through postpartum depression. They've been opening up to me about how they’ve been feeling and what they’ve been going through, and a lot of these people are people that I care about - my cousins, my relatives, my best friends. They were all telling me that they went through depression, they’re going through depression, or they’re going through something [that] they can’t explain and they’re too ashamed to talk about it.
“It was a common denominator amongst all of them, being ashamed, and I don’t know what it was about me that they felt the need to share, to open up, and I kept thinking, ‘Why are you ashamed if you need help?’ We look at, let’s say, cancer and we think there are charity events for cancer. People talk about it and there are communities behind this. It’s an amazing support system, but why is it that when it comes to mental illness, depression, no one wants to talk about it.
“I was asking my husband, I said, ‘I don’t know why me. Why do people keep telling me? Am I supposed to do something about it? Why are they telling me their story?’ And Adrien, my husband, said, ‘You don’t know why they’re telling you? Because you asked them how they are and they share and you listen to them.’ And I didn’t know what that meant, listening to them, because, for me, I just was me making kwento. Then it got me thinking and I messaged my friend, one of the organizers here, ‘You know, we have to do something about mental health,’ and it just went from there.
“I guess I’m here today because I was so afraid to talk because I didn’t go through it - I wasn’t diagnosed with clinical depression - but I felt like I don’t need to have gone through it to be sensitive to it. I want to remove the stigma that mental illness, anxiety, depression, is something we need to be ashamed of. I want to be a voice of my generation and to be heard that this is an epidemic. More people are affected by mental illness and depression than cancer and heart disease, [more] than you can ever imagine, and yet nobody really talks about it. It’s amongst us but God forbid anybody finds out that we’re not living this perfect life.
“I guess I’m here today because I’m a social media influencer. Recently, I went to this concert of Jessie J and she sang this song. She sang a line and said, ‘It’s okay not to be okay,’ and that really broke me because I felt like I wasn’t alone and not being alone is so important when you’re going through this. You’re so pressured to keep up this facade of living a perfect life, of being on social media, knowing the latest trends, having the best outfits - showing everyone that you’re okay when you’re not. When you go home and you’re so ‘uncontented’ with what you have even though you have an amazing life because social media does that. It generates this jealousy and it generates this ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m not as pretty,’ ‘I’m not as thin,’ ‘I’m not traveling as much’ [type of] anxiety. With me, I felt like, ‘I need to be relevant,’ ‘I need to be talked about,’ ‘I need to post something today otherwise people will forget me and I won’t have a career.’ It’s just this anxiety that traps you and if I didn’t have my amazing friends, my family, and my support system to tell me that, ‘You’re gonna get through this,’ I don’t know where I would be. That’s why I wanted to be here today and I wanted to support this cause because I feel like we have to start somewhere. We have to talk about it. Mental illness and depression are amongst us. In my group of friends and family alone, every single person I’ve talked to about this talk today said, ‘I wanna be there,’ ‘I wanna support you.’
“I’m not gonna say that it’s the most awful thing on earth because social media has helped us with a lot. But what I want to say is that this is just a fraction of our reality. I can’t imagine being a teenage girl growing up in this generation, looking up at influencers and bloggers and wanting that life and then going home and feeling like, ‘I don’t have it.’ Maybe this can lead to mental illness and depression and anxiety.
“The whole point of being here today was to inspire someone to talk to the person you love and ask them, ‘Are you okay?” When I say talk, I don’t mean like send them a message on Instagram and troll somebody and be like, ‘Haha, look at what she’s wearing. LOL.’ I mean, really connect with them and feel the relationship. ‘How are you doing with your mom? How are you doing with your brother? How are you doing with your friend?’ And validate them. Say ‘I hear you, I see you, I feel you. And you’re not alone. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, but we’re gonna get through this.’
“Mental illness and depression are around us and if we just took the time and ask people how they feel, they’d be willing to share and they’d be willing to talk to you.
“I just wanna leave with that message - just talk about it. Just ask one person, make that connection, and say, ‘How are you today? How are you feeling?? How’s your relationship?’ Let’s remove that stigma that this is something to be ashamed of because it’s not. This is something that needs to be talked about and people need to be heard. Maybe we can save a life.”
See the full video below:
For more stories on mental health:
Jessy, hinarap ang netizen na sinabing 'you are nothing [without Luis]'
Why Khalil Ramos is the kind of 'influencer' we need
Sofia Andres reveals struggle with anxiety
Vice, inalala kung paano nakabangon mula sa depresyon
Bianca raises mental health awareness through ‘Paano Ba ‘To?’