Cyberbullying Affected My Mental Health When I Started My Acting Career
This piece was written by Mavournee Hazel, Australian actress on TV show “Neighbours.”
A lot of people have had a glimpse of being bullied at school and I personally experienced cyber bullying. It was horrible. I lost all my friends and I pushed people away and wouldn’t open up about it.
Just prior to being offered my role on “Neighbours,” I was living in Sydney with no money and very few friends. I was lucky the friends I had were close friends and they still are dear friends today.
When I got offered the role, I thought, Right! Everything is going to be fine. On paper and to my audience and followers it looks like I have everything in the world as well as all the answers, but I don’t.
There are times in this industry when you are put under a magnifying glass and you’re vulnerable to criticism because you’re in the public eye.
A good circle of friends is so important. When I first moved to Sydney, I didn’t have anyone. While I have always been one of those people who liked being alone, there’s a massive difference between being alone and being lonely and feeling like you have no one. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
The importance of having a great support network is everything. Staying connected to people in your world who genuinely care about you can make such a difference to your well-being.
Now I’m in Melbourne and the cast is my other family. They know exactly what I’m going through and that is so important.
The irony with depression is that when you’re in that headspace, you really don’t want to talk to people and socialize. When I experienced depression, I pushed everyone away from me. That was one of the first signs that something was up with me. I used to love going out with my friends and then I didn’t. It’s little things like that that showed me I was struggling.
A lot of people think this is part of life and sometimes it is, but recognizing something is wrong, listening to your gut and talking to someone you can trust are key in avoiding long term problems.
If someone else around you seems depressed, be there for them and check in. Ask how they’re doing and don’t give up on them. You can be the one to start a life-changing conversation.
People think as actors, we are untouchable. But it’s the opposite. We are touched by everyone and so exposed. And then there are the expectations you need to meet and you wonder if you can keep up the façade and be a rock and even a role model. That was scary for me. A role model? I felt like I could barely take care of myself.
When I first started my role, the amount of people who would say “I want to be you!” was overwhelming. I’d be like, “No you don’t. Be yourself because if you’re striving your whole life to be someone else, you’re always going to be a second rate version of that person.”
My life goal is to be myself unapologetically and to be happy in being myself. No amount of comments, likes or followers is going to validate that for me. It’s an intrinsic thing.
A fellow actor on the show who plays my older sister, gave me some great advice a while ago. I was talking about how overwhelmed I felt being thrust into the spotlight and I started comparing myself to others. When I said, “I’m not getting celebrated for being me, but I really want to be myself,” she responded by saying, “Stop. Comparison is the thief of joy.” That really resonated with me.
R U OK? is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year. But every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at ruok.org.au.
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Photo via R U OK? Youtube channel.