Yashma Gill talks mental health

Actor opened up on ‘scary’ struggles

News Desk June 17, 2024


Yashma Gill, the outspoken and bubbly Pakistani actor, recently opened up about her mental health journey on the FWhy Podcast, shedding light on her battles with depression, anxiety, and the importance of addressing mental health head-on.

During her candid conversation with Frieha Altaf, Yashma revealed she was diagnosed with depression at 21, just before leaving for Australia for university. The Khel actor shared she has since struggled with panic attacks and the rare dissociative disorder called derealisation where people with high levels of depression or anxiety feel that the world is unreal, and people and things around them seem lifeless or foggy.

The actor recalled the time she once told her psychiatrist, “I can handle depression and panic attacks, but when derealisation happens to me, it’s very scary,” to which the psychiatrist emphasised that the root cause was depression. “If we treat that,” he assured her, “all the other panic attacks, anxiety, and derealisation will go away.” This revelation was a turning point for Yashma, who began to see the interconnectedness of her mental health struggles.

Reflecting on societal changes surrounding mental health, Yashma noted, “Finally, people are talking about depression and people are understanding it. They know what depression is, they know what anxiety is. People acknowledge when somebody else has it and they try to help.” She contrasted this with her mother’s generation, where admitting to mental health issues was met with shame. “In their time, if someone felt these things, they were ashamed to admit it,” she said.

For those who are hesitant to receive treatment, the Pyaar Ke Sadkay actor eloquently likened the brain to any other organ in the body. “Just like your kidneys, lungs, heart are organs, your brain is an organ as well. If there is a chemical imbalance, there are medicines that can fix that, and you should fix it. Just like a diabetic knows their trigger is sugar, someone with depression should know what their triggers are.”

For Yashma, the high-pressure environment of the entertainment industry often means long hours and emotional suppression. “I’ve noticed that those in the industry, especially because we work sometimes for around 12 hours a day, have the habit of suppressing any emotional pains, or distracting themselves due to busy schedules,” she explained. “I’ve found that the more you try to suppress it and escape it, it will in fact stay there and grow inside you. One way or another, it will try and find its way out. That’s why I think it’s so important to sit down with that pain, experience it, feel it, and then let it pass.”

Yashma’s journey with mental health started early, manifesting in unhealthy behaviours like crash dieting. Like many young teens, the actor’s dieting habits started because of a crush she had on a boy. “I started dieting when I was 12. One day my teacher called me out in class because I was getting pale, and she asked me if I was alright. Little did she know I was not eating at all. Which was unhealthy, I don’t endorse it at all.” She emphasised the adverse effects, “The way I crash dieted was really bad, my hair would fall out because I wasn’t getting much nutrition.” Her story was something that host Frieha also related to, revealing that her own toxic relationship with food started at the age of 13.

The conversation then shifted from childhood crushes to love and heartbreak, during which Yashma revealed that despite her struggles, she finds a silver lining in heartbreak, seeing it as a hidden gift. “I think heartbreak gives you depth, it makes you emotionally intellectual… It makes you more mature. Whenever I’ve been heartbroken, I’ve turned that pain into passion. It has always motivated me to do better in life, so I look at it as a blessing in disguise.”

On a lighter note, Yashma shared a humorous anecdote about her mother’s matchmaking mishaps. This particular one involved a cousin four years younger than the actor, which apparently did not pose itself as a problem to her mother. “My mom tried to get me to marry my cousin. She would say that he’s becoming a model as well. And I would have to tell her that he’s younger than me and she would always say age is just a number.”


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