Local actress Julie Tan opens up on struggles with self-harm

Julie Tan opened up while doing a make-up tutorial, visibly distraught at certain points. PHOTO: JULIETAN_CXQ_TIKTOK

Local actress Julie Tan, 28, took to TikTok to speak about her ongoing battle with self-harm and the state of her mental health.

In the 45-second clip posted last Saturday (Feb 20), she opened up while doing a make-up tutorial, visibly distraught at certain points.

"Whenever I am feeling depressed, there are voices in my head telling me I deserve to be punished," she wrote in the video's text overlay.

"So I would 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."

The actress, who has close to 98,000 followers on the platform, has appeared in a number of local drama series and movies, notably as the lead in comedy-musical That Girl In Pinafore (2013).

She was also caught up in the crossfire of a scandal in August 2018, when veteran actress Hong Huifang blasted a WhatsApp message to say she was cutting fellow actress Pan Lingling out of her life.

Tan was named in the message as Hong was furious that Pan gossiped about a rumoured relationship between Hong's son, Calvert Tay, and Tan.

In her TikTok clip, Tan wrote: "It's been 10 months since I've hurt myself, but sometimes the emotions are so overwhelming. During tough times the urge to hurt myself is so strong. I will always tell myself don't give in to it, I need to be strong. But sometimes I am just tired of being strong."

In an interview with The New Paper on Friday (Feb 26), she opened up further, revealing that her emotional problems originated from "childhood trauma".

Her mother had difficulties expressing her emotions appropriately and they had sought therapy together when she was between the ages of seven and 12.

Tan, who had also revealed in the past that her former boyfriend had verbally and physically abused her, sought help again in her early 20s due to the pressure of being in the limelight as a celebrity.

She also spoke to Lianhe Zaobao on Thursday, revealing that one of the reasons she had left Mediacorp in 2017 was her inability to control her emotions while filming.

She said she turned to a mental healthcare app, Safe Space, for professional help in 2019.

The New Paper spoke to Ms Evonne Lek, a systemic psychotherapist and family therapist at Reconnect Psychology & Family Therapy, who praised Tan's bravery and openness.

She added: "We want to change the stigma that the sharing of mental health struggles is weak. In fact, it is incredibly powerful."


Not the easiest thing to share but I hope we all can love ourselves more and be kind to one another. #mentalhealthmatters

♬ drivers license x ocean eyes - carneyval

Tan's clip, which has been viewed more than 72,000 times, has garnered 4,600 likes and almost 600 comments, mostly supportive.

She also received private messages from people who shared their own struggles with her, as well as comments from teens that she believes are cries for help.

She said: "It's really awesome to see everyone has such strength from within to carry on, which really motivates me to be a better person."

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