It isn't easy to share feelings of severe depression, or to open up about mental health issues in general — especially because being in a dark place can often make you want to isolate and bottle up how you're really feeling. It can be impossible to believe there is a way out of that sadness, or that others will understand it. But it's true that struggles with mental health can happen with people from all walks of life, for so many different reasons. Recently, Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland opened up about her depression on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, discussing in a candid and straightforward way the major internal conflicts it has caused for her over the years.
During her interview on the show, Hyland told DeGeneres that she was contemplating suicide during the darkest parts of her depression:
I was very, very, very close. I would write letters in my head to loved ones — of why I did it, my reasoning behind it, how it’s nobody’s fault. And I didn’t want to write it down on paper because I didn’t want anyone to find it. … I didn’t want anyone to know I was that close because if I knew, they would try to persuade me.
Hyland explained that it was her chronic health issues that had contributed to a state of severe depression and feelings of hopelessness.
Hyland has a condition called kidney dysplasia, as well as endometriosis, and an abdominal hernia. As PEOPLE reports, the 28-year-old actress has experienced multiple surgeries, as well as not one, but two kidney transplants. This has, understandably, made everyday life a challenge for her at times.
Hyland spoke to DeGeneres about some of her darkest days, explaining,
At the time, I was 26, and after 26, 27 years of always being sick and being in chronic pain every single day and you don’t know when you’re going to have the next good day, it’s really, really hard.
Hyland also shared that speaking up about how she felt, and getting to a place where she could ask for help, played a major role in what helped her continue on.
She told DeGeneres that she has a wonderful support system in her friends and family, and it was the act of finally confiding in someone about how she was feeling that allowed her to really realize she needed to see a therapist and seek professional help. Hyland explained,
Just saying it out loud helped immensely because I kept it to myself for months and months at a time. And saying it out loud really helped me. Every person with their anxiety, or depression, or suicidal thoughts, every individual is different.
I wouldn’t rely on everything I say, I’m just sharing my story. But I think talking to someone and saying it out loud really, really makes it sound almost ridiculous and puts everything in perspective.
Although Hyland's words rang true when she said that each person's mental health is different and unique to that individual, her instinct to speak to someone and seek help was, and is, a good one.
As therapist and relationship expert David Bennett tells Elite Daily, "Recognizing that you have depression or feelings of sadness and reaching out to get help will not only help you, but even inspire others to seek help."
Furthermore, a 2007 study from UCLA showed that being able to put your feelings into words can lead to "therapeutic effects in the brain," as per a press release from the university. Researchers involved in the study knew that the amygdala — aka a part of the brain that helps in processing feelings — responds even when people see pictures of another person expressing emotion. They then observed the brain responses of volunteer participants who were asked to identify feelings they saw expressed out loud, and the researchers found that a different part of the brain seems to take on some of the burden of emotional processing, lessening the response of the amygdala alone.
In other words, this basically means that, when you can figure out how to interpret your emotions in a different way, or from a different perspective — like when you're able to take your internal thoughts and translate them into real, concrete language — there's a shift that happens in your brain and, as a result, the way you understand and make sense of those emotions. Or, as Hyland put it, sometimes the only way to get out of your own head is to "say it loud."
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.