Singaporean actress Julie Tan opened up to Coconuts about her history of self-harm after revealing it for the first time last week.
The 28-year-old star of the musical That Girl in Pinafore said that she had been cutting and biting herself until 10 months ago as a way to cope with childhood trauma. But it was only last week that she went public about it on TikTok after a video of her crying while applying makeup alarmed her fans.
“I have been dealing with self-harm for over 10 years,” she wrote in response to Coconuts yesterday. “I had some traumatic experiences when I was a kid and the way that I have been dealing with the traumas was to self-harm. The younger me [did] not know how to get rid of the pain within me, hence turning to physically remove the pain from myself such as biting or cutting myself.”
She didn’t mention seeking professional help for the “huge, overwhelming waves” of emotions that can cause one to “lose control of your surviving skill and just want to give up.” She regularly finds herself in a vicious cycle of pushing people away because she thinks she is undeserving of their love.
Tan said she’s been able to avoid harming herself for the past 10 months through constant affirmations of her worth.
“For the past few months, I kept reminding myself (during both the good and bad times) that I am deserving of love and I pledge to return the love that people gave me back to them as well,” she said. “I am working towards having the ability to appreciate living and the good or bad things that happen to me.”
She decided to put up the TikTok video to create awareness about mental health.
“The truth is behind my positivity hides tons of negative and ugly thoughts,” she captioned her video. “Whenever I am feeling depressed there are voices in my head telling me I deserved to be punished. So I will punish myself, I would bite my arms and slap myself. When I was younger I used to cut myself but due to work now I can’t afford to have scars.”
Tan told Coconuts that she hopes those struggling with similar issues know that they are not alone and urged others to have more empathy.
“I hope to remind people who are going through emotional turmoil that they are not alone. I also wish to raise mental health awareness, to have less stigma toward it and to accept the medical nature of it, not just asking people to ‘get over it’,” Tan said.
In 2018, she told reporters that she was involved in an abusive relationship with an unnamed Singaporean businessman who was 11 years older.
The actress is known for starring in several Chinese-language television dramas and movies, most notably as the female lead in the 2013 Singaporean comedy-musical film That Girl in Pinafore. Her most recent works include television dramas Mister Flower and True Lies.
@julietan_cxqNot the easiest thing to share but I hope ￼￼we all can love ourselves more and be kind to one another. ##mentalhealthmatters
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This article, ‘I have been dealing with self-harm for over 10 years’: Singaporean actress Julie Tan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.