For the first time ever, Iza Calzado opened up about her mother, Mary Ann Ussher and her battle with depression. The actress also talked about her path towards healing in a video uploaded by She Talks Asia, a women’s movement, co-founded by the actress in time for Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10.
In the 28-minute video, Iza sat down with Sarah Meier as she said, “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.”
Iza started her story as she talked about her battle with weight and shared that she was diagnosed with depression in sixth grade.
The actress said, “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.’ I’m sure it was more difficult for her but of course it was difficult for a child,” Iza continued.
Iza talked about the possible triggers of her mom’s depression. When Iza was in first grade, her mom lost a baby who was born in 1988 and had Down’s Syndrome. Iza shared, “Around this time, her best friend was also murdered. Can you imagine somebody going through all that?”
Iza continued, “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.”
On good days, Iza shared that her mom was generous and compassionate. “But it was hard because it’s your mom and she’s trying to take her life. And she kept talking about it, that she was sick,” Iza revealed.
Sarah asked Iza, “On the good days when she looked at you, what do you think she saw?” Iza replied, “I think she saw everything she could have been. On good days, I was her hope. That’s how I felt. I was everything she wanted to be. I symbolized that. Everything that she didn’t achieve for herself.” However, on bad days, Iza said that she became her mom’s weapon to hurt her father, the late actor and choreographer, Lito Calzado.
Her mom sought treatment in the United States where she was given antidepressants. “Her okay times were not so okay anymore,” Iza shared. “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.”
Things took a turn for the worse in 2001 when her mom finally did it. She went out the night before and woke up the next morning with the yaya screaming. Iza fought back tears as he recalled, “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 entered showbiz a year later and people would ask her what her mom died of. At the start, she wasn’t really comfortable talking about it. One day, Iza came up to her manager and asked how she can talk about mental health. “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 said.
During her wedding, Sunshine Dizon gave her a bracelet that belonged to Iza’s mom. While wedding guests said Iza lost her mom to cancer, Iza said, “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.”
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