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It’s only recently that we’ve begun speaking more openly about mental health in this country, thanks in part to Deepika Padukone‘s revelations that she’s struggled with depression. Several celebrities have come forth with their stories since then, and when we sat down with Ileana D’Cruz to have a candid chat recently, we learned a lot about the actress that we didn’t know previously. Ileana struggles with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, anxiety and depression, but even through it all, she’s getting help, finding a support system, and doing very well in her career.

Here are excerpts from our chat:

On her biggest struggle…

As far as work is concerned thankfully I’m not super attached emotionally. So I can let go of things. The most difficult struggle for me has been personally, because I’ve been dealing with a lot of issues. [I’m dealing with] a lot of issues as far as my body is concerned. I’ll be turning 30 this year, and I know I’ve been dealing with it for over 10-12 years, maybe even 15, but I never really knew what it was. I finally went to somebody a few months ago and she sort of helped me out.

Ileana D'Cruz
Ileana D’Cruz

On depression…

I think it’s important for everybody to get themselves checked – mental health is something that’s very important. Anxiety has been a big problem for me, but I think my biggest struggle has been depression. For me, my depression doesn’t revolve around my work, it revolves around me personally. What’s weird is that I’m not insecure about work, so when people ask me ‘are you competitive?’ I say no. If someone’s better than me, they’re going to do better, it’s as simple as that. If I’m good, I’ll get successful to a certain extent. I believe you’ll get to where you deserve.

On needing a great support system…

There was a time I didn’t want to get out of the house – I used to get really emotional, I used to sit in a corner and just cry for hours. And I didn’t even want to go out to get groceries, that’s how bad it was. It can be really consuming if you let it get there. The pretty shitty thing about it is that only you can help yourself, but it helps having a great support system around you. I actually read something about what Deepika [Padukone] put up recently – I didn’t know she went through it – she said that it was the support that got her out of it.

Ileana D'Cruz
Ileana D’Cruz

On having to look ‘put together’…

I have really emotional moments and it’s something I only realized recently. I’d wake up sometimes and I’d just cry, and I’m thinking of the most hopeless scenarios, and then I’m like ‘why am I thinking about that?’ There’s one voice in my head saying ‘you’re being stupid, you don’t have to be so upset about it, you have a great life’ and then the other part is like ‘no, you’ve got this not working for you, you’ve got that not working for you.’ So it’s just two little voices in my head fighting each other constantly, and it can be really bad. If I can be completely honest with you, I had a really shit day today. I woke up and I was feeling shitty, and I didn’t know what to do, and I sent [a friend] a message saying ‘I really need a friend, can I call you?’ She was at work, but she thankfully answered the phone and spoke to me for an hour, then I told her I have to go get ready because I’m going to be live on camera in like 2 hours. They’re going to see me looking like shit! I may be lucky that I have a job where I’m supposed to look amazing, I’m supposed to look like there’s nothing going on with my life, so it sort of pulls me out of it and distracts me. But a distraction is just a temporary stop on it, it’s not a final something. So it’s not easy. I don’t know how much to say about it because I don’t know how to get through it.

On powering through work with a mental illness…

When it comes to work, I don’t have a choice [but to show up] – because most of the time, there’s money involved, there’s people involved. As far as this is concerned, I can’t just be like ‘okay, you know what, I can’t come.’ If I ask my manager to tell you guys, then you’ll be like ‘what the hell, we’ve been planning this.’ If she gives you an excuse like ‘she’s not feeling well’ you’ll be like ‘bitch, she’s just not coming.’ I think it’s that weird thing where you’ve got to tell yourself stop being a baby, toughen up – but then there’s that other part where you’re being you, you’re being a human being. You’re allowed to be flawed, you’re allowed to be in pieces sometimes.

On the most defining moment of her life…

The day I realized I have so much going wrong with me [was the most defining moment of my life]. I think the first part in really healing yourself is being aware that there’s something really wrong in the first place. I’m glad I’m not one of those people who’s in denial. I know there’s something seriously wrong. I’m aware that I am flawed, I’m aware that I have issues, I’m aware that I need to be able to be healthy, not just physically but mentally. I know that I want to do something about it. I think that’s the most – strangely – defining moment for me. Work is secondary, for me what’s important is having a close-knit family and having someone you can call family. Someone you can actually be yourself with, because that’s what’s important at the end of the day – money comes, money goes. It’s not going to make you happy.

Ileana D’Cruz

On the ‘perfect body type’…

I apparently have Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I didn’t know that. When I told my therapist, she was like ‘what’, and then she said, hang on, I think you have this thing – and then I googled it and I said ‘makes sense.’ You get fixated on one body part, and you’re just obsessed with how much you don’t like it. That’s pretty much it for me. But I’ve reached a point where it’s like – I mean, it’s who I am. The people you see on magazine covers, they’re touched up, slimmed down, covered up. And there’s no such thing as a perfect body type – they go on about how the hourglass is the perfect body type, then the next year it’ll be the athletic type. What are you going to do, change your body type every year? Just be happy, be healthy.

Love and strength to you always, Ileana!

(Source: Missmalini.com)

Daniel Brooks Moore

User Experience & Visual Designer at DBM
Hi, I have a sincere passion for creating solutions that solve everyday problems, for people, through the use of design and technology.
Daniel Brooks Moore