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  • Ellen Adarna Reveals She Had Postpartum Depression: 'It Was Just Darkness And Negativity'

    She shares her journey to finally achieving peace.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • She has mostly kept away from the public eye since her son was born in 2018, but now Ellen Adarna is ready to reveal her experience with postpartum depression and her journey to finally achieving peace.

    In an interview with Preview.ph for their January 2021 cover, Ellen shares that it took her two years to heal. Despite having always wanted a child, the mom of one says she couldn’t understand why she was filled with sadness after her son, Elias, was born.

    “I really went on a downward spiral, I really lost it,” Ellen told the fashion magazine. “I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel.”

    Her sorrow was also heightened by the fact that she was dealing with the loss of her father, Alan Modesto Adarna, a few weeks before she gave birth. Her relationship with actor John Lloyd Cruz, the father of her child, was also not working out. In the end, the two actors decided to part ways.

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    “You know, we weren’t compatible, obviously, that’s why we broke up. Of course, any normal break up hurts. You want things to work,” Ellen shares.

    All these events triggered many difficult emotions. “It was just really darkness and negativity,” the mom recalls. “[There would be times when] the bathroom was my security blanket. Siguro in a day, tatambay ako sa banyo for three hours, just to be away, because it was in the bathroom that I felt safe.”

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    Ellen knew she needed help — her anxiety brought with it a regular fear of sudden death. She would imagine the ceiling falling on her while in bed or dying in an accident while riding cars. The actress sought counseling and therapy, but she did not want to take medication until she had finished breastfeeding.

    She told herself it’s because Elias was her priority, but some part of her was in denial. When she was finally able to take her prescription, she didn’t feel like her condition improved, either.

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    “I would not feel sad anymore, but I wouldn’t be happy either. So I was just basically a robot,” she says.

    The road to healing

    After a Christmas vacation in Europe with her family, Ellen finally acknowledged that she had to do something about her situation. “I thought mawawala ‘yung sadness ko, but I was still sad, crying and crying. I was in a nice place and I still felt shitty.”

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    One of her friends told her about “KoKoro Program,” a 14-day mental health program where “the job of a trainer/Coach/SiFu is to bring light into the darkest corners of the student’s soul no matter how uncomfortable the student feels about those points.”

    As part of the program, Ellen was isolated for a week without a phone and contact with the outside world. She went through difficult physical exercises meant to put her mind in a state of meditation.

    She recalls, “They use your body, to get to the mind. So kailangan ka nilang pagurin, pagurin, pagurin – [it becomes] mind over matter.”

    Her feelings of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress were causing an imbalance and the goal was to put her in a state of balance as a person. She puts it this way: “You’re imbalanced, you’re depressed, because there is a part of you—let’s say mind, body, soul goals — that you’re not able to achieve, that you’re not able to fulfill. So, they trained me: If you want to be a balanced person, your mind, body, and soul should be balanced. They have to be in harmony.

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    So how do you feed your mind? You keep your promises, you set your goals, and you have to reach them. You have to take care of your body, because it is the instrument. So you have to eat right, you have to treat it right. And then the soul is your reward if you are able to balance both. It’s the yin and yang.”

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    The exercises in the program made her realize that not only was she experiencing anxiety and frustration, she had also built up a lot of aggression and anger inside her. Through sensitivity and intuition exercises, Ellen was able to face her issues.

    “We had to bring out my issues all the time for me to be able to face it until I was able to just look at it and identify that I was feeling frustrated, or that this is anxiety. It’s just like observing all these feelings passing without reacting to it emotionally,” she shares.

    A different Ellen

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    After the two-week retreat, Ellen finally had a change in mindset. She approached and reacted to problems in a different manner than before. It also helped her have a better relationship with John Lloyd and a more peaceful co-parenting setup.

    “Now I’m in a very good place. I can say I’m 100% okay. I feel my environment changed. Like his approach to me, my relationship [with him has] changed without asking him to change,” the mom says. “So, I was just really the problem. How I viewed it, my thinking pattern was the problem.”

    Ellen doesn’t hesitate to say that John Lloyd is a good father to Elias. She did not want to take away her son’s right to be with his father just because she used to be angry at her ex, which is why she made an effort to fix their relationship.

    “My son needs him as much as he needs me. I see their relationship and I see how happy my son is when he is around. So that’s why I also have to work on myself,” she shares.

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    After all that she’s been through, Ellen says she’s become stronger and better equipped to handle future challenges that will come her way.

    She says, “In the past, I would react very quickly or violently or without thinking. Now, I still feel [the emotions], I’m still human, but I’m better at reacting. I manage it well na. I think I’ve zenned it out.

    “I can identify when an emotion is coming: like what am I feeling, how am I feeling, why am I feeling this? If I react like this, what’s the outcome. So that’s all being calculated already. And ever since I had that kind of thinking, things have been so smooth.”

    If you are feeling anxious, helpless, or despondent. If you need someone to talk to:

    • Crisis Line +633 893-7603 / +63 917 800-1123 / + 63 922 893-8944
    • Manila Lifeline Center at +632 896-9191 or +63 917 854-9191
    • Department of Health's 24-hour suicide prevention hotline Hopeline +632 804-4637 / +63 917 558-4673 and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.
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    You can also join SOS Philippines on Facebook, a support group founded for survivors of suicide loss and Filipinos who have mental health conditions.

    For more stories that can help you understand postpartum depression, click here.

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