- Iza Calzado opened up about the struggles of her mother as well as her true cause of death in a video by She Talks Asia
- She talked about how her mother, Mary Ann Ussher, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and how she lived through it as a child watching a parent with mental health issues
- Iza also shared her final moments with her mother, as well as what inspired her to come out with such a personal story
Earlier this year, actress Iza Calzado phoned Inquirer Entertainment to clarify that both her parents did not die because of cancer. She pointed out that while her mother, Mary Ann Ussher did pass away in 2001, and the cause was not cancer.
At that time, she said that she wasn’t really open to talk about her mother’s death, and that she would talk about it when she was ready.
And on a video released on Oct 10, Iza bravely talked about the struggles her mother endured with She Talks Asia co-founder Sarah Meier. In it, she clarified that she had not lost her mother to cancer, but to suicide.
October 10 marked the World Mental Health Day, a day where we continue sharing stories about mental health, its facets, and how mental illness and a misaligned view on mental health could have negative repercussions to our everyday lives. Iza shared her mother’s story as a celebration to the day, and as a reminder of the everyday fight her mother has gone through.
“My mom, every since I knew her, or could understand things enough, had a mental illness, a condition, whatever way people may want to put it. At that time she was told she was neurotic. This was the 80s. She had a temper, she you know, could flare up. They gave her downers, she was misdiagnosed. Eventually she became manic-depressive, and eventually bipolar was the last term. You know, the prognosis was that,” she said.
via Inquirer Entertainment
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. In depth, there is more than one type of bipolar disorder, and it is easy to misdiagnose it because of its similar symptoms to most anxiety and mood disorders.
“And so I grew up with a stigma na yung nanay ko baliw (my mother was crazy)…I received a lot of that energy as well,” she shared. “I’m sure it was more difficult for her, but of course it’s different for a child, diba?”
via ABS-CBN News
Iza also narrated about how her mother went through a difficult moment in her life back in 1988, when she lost a child, Iza’s younger brother, 17 days after giving birth. She also said that her mother’s best friend was murdered around the same time.
“So my mom part of her, what she was battling was she wanted life to end, you know? She just didn’t want to live anymore,” Iza said, holding back tears.
She recalled how she witnessed her mom struggling, and having to rush her to the hospital when she took too many downers.
“She was suki ng Medical City (a regular at Medical City). And as a child to see that, there was a lot of shame. My mom is not normal, yung ganun,” she said.
The actress described her relationship with her mother, noting that the good times were definitely good, and that her mother was a “beautiful person.” “She was generous, she was compassionate… But it was hard because it’s your mom and she’s trying to take her life. And she kept talking about it, that she was sick.”
Iza also recalled about getting in the middle of her parents when they eventually split up, and how eventually she was taken to the United States to get treated. She talked about how things seem to fall into a routine, and that “even her okay times were not so okay anymore” because it was evident that she wasn’t happy.
But things took a turn for the worse in 2001, when one morning Iza woke up to their nanny screaming.
“I went down. And I saw my mother. Kuya (her older brother) was home. I remember screaming, ‘Kuya, help!’” she recalled. They then brought their mother to St. Luke’s Hospital.
“I remember being there in the emergency room and then now my dad was already there but because of how many times she had done it, but now we’re like, is it done?” Iza said.
“I didn’t realize she was actually gonna do it. Because there was actually a point in my life I thought it was an act, I thought it was a way for her to get attention. It seemed like it was,” she continued.
“And then suddenly she did it. It was almost like a ‘sleep now, rest, ‘cos I know you’re tired.’ And she was tired,” a tearful Iza recalled.
She described the guilt and shame that came immediately after her mother’s suicide. It wasn’t easy as well, since she also recalled that there was also shame coming from the Catholic Church, where her body was “not allowed to be blessed by the church she supported.”
When her career took off shortly after her mother’s career, people would ask about her mother and she would always find a way to tiptoe around the subject because she wasn’t comfortable talking about it at that time, but as time grew and she went through her own self-searching journey, she realized that she wanted to do something on mental health.
“I think the biggest trigger for me was I got married in December, Sunshine Dizon gave me a bracelet that was my mom’s. Bob Nicolas and people wrote about my mom and my mom’s bracelet. ‘Iza lost her mom to cancer.’ And it was just triggering me. I did not,” she said.
“I feel like I speak so openly about the things I’m going through, how I am, but there’s one part that I’m not honest about but it’s a very crucial part of who I am and why I’m having to go through this healing journey,” she said.
Aside from being honest, Iza said she hopes that people will find hope in her mother’s story.
“The most important part of all is for my mother, perhaps somebody will find inspiration, hope, meaning, I don’t know, something from it,” she said. -Rappler/Inquirer