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Paulo Avelino, Nicole Asensio and Iza Calzado to those struggling with depression: You’re not alone.



Everyone goes through dark days, even celebrities. But when it crosses from being just an emotion to a condition or disposition, then it’s time to get help.



Last week, Paulo Avelino, who is usually tight-lipped about his personal life, talked about a “dark period” in his life during which he made a move to end it all by harming himself physically.

Fortunately, his attempt failed and, in his words, “I survived.”

“It’s hard for me to talk about this,” he said. “I, myself, back then, didn’t know what was happening to me. At the time, I was denying everything that triggers depression.”

Paulo continued: “I’m lucky I had two friends who were beside me during those dark moments, who were beside me at the hospital until I got discharged. They are the reason I’m still alive today.”

But just when he thought all would be well, Paulo found himself feeling alone all over again after one of his friends committed suicide.

“The night before he did it, he messaged me. He told me ‘Pare, hindi ko na talaga kaya.’ I was at work that time and I couldn’t just leave the set — we all know how we work as actors — so I wasn’t able to be with him that night.”

It was the last time Paulo would hear from him.

“It hurts because when I needed someone, he’s one message away. But when my friend needed me the most, I wasn’t able to do anything. That moment really haunts me,” he said.

In one Instagram post, the actor also talked about what happened, thinking that “someone out there going through the same thing” would realize he is not alone.

“I want you to know that everybody has issues and sometimes you seeing other people have them will help you cope with your own,” he wrote.

“Years back I found myself in a place where I only saw one way out. I went through a spiraling journey of Depression and suicidal thoughts. Where everything seemed like nothing matters anymore. Locked myself at home, turned down almost every job that came in and shut myself off from work, friends, family, the world. I am introvert. And as an introverted person I was so used to keeping my thoughts to myself. Even when I wanted to share stuff, I truly didn’t know how to. I didn’t know how to voice out all these feelings and thoughts inside me.

“So here I am sharing with you guys that even the people who appear to be okay or who seem to ‘have it all’ might be going through their own struggles, fighting their own demons.”



Paulo encouraged those who are experiencing the same feelings to reach out to friends, family, and loved ones.
“Oftentimes people will brush it off thinking it’s nothing to be concerned about or it’s a small matter. Don’t be scared to voice out what you feel no matter how hard it is. Never lose HOPE.”

Nicole Asensio wasn’t aware she has depression until the death of his good friend, Razorback drummer Brian Velasco.

“We all have wounds of various shapes and depth. Some of them were inflicted during our childhood and the funny thing about these wounds is that it’s inside, you cannot see them. No one can see how deep it is. And when they are inside, you come across people who will whack it where it hurts,” she said.

The first wounds were inflicted when she lost her dad.

 “He died in my arms and there are so many questions because the nature of his death is still unresolved.

“I have this feeling but I don’t know what to do about it. I didn’t realize what these wounds are. So I was starting to fix it when my best friend, who was with me for many years, decided to jump off from the building where he lived. I was in the States when did that. And that set me back to zero.”

She visited a doctor to figure out what’s happening to her. Apparently, she has hormonal imbalance.

“I don’t know how to control this imbalance and these things can’t be fixed,” she said.”I’m still going through it. It’s really hard to act normal every day. Every day is a fight to get through.”

Iza Calzado has finally revealed a painful truth: Her mother took her own life 18 years ago.

“Growing up with a parent who struggled everyday — seeing day in and out the battle with depression — was not really easy,” she confessed. “Every day I wish that I fully understood her…”

Iza hopes her mother’s story would encourage those suffering from depression to choose to survive.

“I know it takes a lot of work, a lot of healing to battle with these things. I believe that we should normalize the conversation (about the matter) because by doing so, we could help each other,” the actress said.

Don’t lose HOPE
If you have depression, Paulo, Nicole, and Iza said it helps to have at least one person listen to you.

“Voice out your feelings,” Paulo said. “A lot of people may be going through depression but there are a lot more willing to help them overcome.”

Nicole reminded the support group that just being there when needed is already a big help.

“We don’t need answers, we just need one person to listen to us,” she said.

Those who aren’t ready to open up to the people closest to them, they can also reach out and call HOPELINE.

The Hopeline Project’s hotlines can be reached at (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917 558 HOPE (4673) and 2919 (toll-free number for all Globe and TM subscribers).

Frances Lim, Jun Sy, Nicole Asensio, Pia Sy

Frances Lim, Jun Sy, Nicole Asensio, Pia Sy

Concert for a cause
The three celebrities spoke at the recent press conference tendered by the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) which promotes awareness and understanding about depression and suicide prevention. Nine years ago, NGF established its flagship project, Hopeline the first and only 24/7 crisis support service specifically catering to depression and suicide related calls.

Recall that in June this year, it was announced that the Department of Health has had to withdraw its funding for NGF Hopeline. At the conference, NGF Chairman Jun Sy called for the support of private corporations, collaborations with civic organizations and the participation of the youth to rally behind this cause.

“The number of suicide cases in the Philippines is rising at an alarming rate and depression incidences are at an all-time high,” he said though without citing his sources.  “In the past 10 years, the age of callers has dropped from 16-17 years old to 12-14 year old. The youngest caller we had was 7 years old.”

Jean Goulbourn said: “We are calling on all Filipinos to help us bring this issue, especially depression, to light. Break the walls of shame, silence, stigma, and build a bridge of courage, compassion, understanding. Early intervention can result in more positive outcomes.”

Staunch advocate Sheila Suntay of YOLO Foundation will be a strong partner of NGF for collaborative programs for the youth and sports along with Cynthia Carreon.

Katrina Feist, Ruel Maranan, Iza Calzado, Jean Goulbourn

Katrina Feist, Ruel Maranan, Iza Calzado, Jean Goulbourn

Jimmy Bautista, former President of PAL and head of NGF’s advisory board stated, “The issue of depression that may lead to suicide is a concern not just for the government or for private foundations like NGF. It is a concern that must be accepted and acted on by all of us, as we are all fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters to someone who may be suffering in silence. Let us all join hands in doing what we can to bring this issue to light, and rally behind the cause started by NGF 12 years ago.”

On Nov. 18, there will be a benefit concert at New World Hotel in Makati for Hopeline. Titled “Beyond The Blues With The Beatles,” the show features Bituin Escalante, Jon Santos, Nicole, and Michael Williams. Proceeds of the concert will go directly to HOPELINE responders’ continuing education and its expansion program.

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