Steven Ma Reveals He’s Been Struggling With His Mental Health For Past 20 Years

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, many celebrities and notable figures such as Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran has stepped up to raise awareness on what was once a taboo subject. Popular Hong Kong actor Steven Ma is one of them.

Speaking to Ming Pao Weekly, Steven Ma shed more light on his struggles while producing Till We Meet Again (生前約死後), a film he directed and wrote based on his mental health struggles after his mother lost the fight against cancer.

Poster of Till We Meet Again (生前約死後), a film written and directed by Steven Ma
Photo Credit: True Star

The 47-year-old star admitted that working on the film was physically and emotionally draining as he had to relive the painful memories from his mother’s battle with cancer, a fight that diagnosed him with depression and anxiety.

While he was writing the script, Steven Ma revealed that his emotions got the better of him and he had to stop writing thrice. On set, it was all the more challenging.

Steven Ma crying while on set of Till We Meet Again
Photo Credit: Till We Meet Again (生前約死後)

Steven said: “I am not nervous, but I am insane. When I get into position I would cry like no other and once I hear “cut”, I would run to the screen to watch the scene’s playback. I am basically the ‘crazy guy’ walking and crying everywhere on set.”

Slipping into depression in 1999

After his mother passed away in 1999, Steven Ma slipped into depression and locked himself away from the world. During his darkest moments, he had also thought of ending his life by jumping down the building he lived in.

Recalling that instance, Ma said he wanted to take his own life so his mother would not have to die alone. He also admitted the craziest part was that he was not aware of what he was doing at all during that dark period.

A photo of Steven Ma and his mother taken when she was still in good health
Photo Credit: Steven Ma

Steven has put up a tough fight mentally and physically in the last 20 years but despite that he admitted anxiety attacks would still occur. Though he does not panic as often as before, his body would experience symptoms such as fast heart rate, rapid breathing, numbness and dizziness.

When asked if he could sense an incoming anxiety attack, he said: “I’ve been experiencing it for years, so I know if it’s about to happen. I would close my eyes, take deep breaths to calm myself down and if it gets really serious, I’ll take medicine to control it. Even doctors scold me and ask if I have to exchange my life for this project.”

Encouraging others to cherish life

In the same interview, Steven Ma reassured everyone that he no longer feels suicidal. He also highlighted that there have been many instances where people who felt too stressed up resorted to committing suicide to end their misery.

“I feel so pained whenever I see suicide news. Every life is precious so no matter what hardships you face, don’t give up on yourself!”

Since he left TVB in 2012, Steven Ma has been busy picking up new skills and pursuing gigs that align with his interests. He’s written and acted in his stage play, become a certified barista and enrolled in a Master’s programme for Business Administration in Beijing. That’s not all! Steven also revealed he plans to set up a film production company to produce more local films addressing societal issues in Hong Kong.

Steven Ma in a selfie he took against the Hong Kong skyline at night. Posted on IG on Oct 9, 2019
Photo Credit: Steven Ma (via IG)

Editor’s Note

Steven Ma’s struggles prove that mental health can happen to anyone, including celebrities. Help is everywhere and recovery is also possible, as long as we open our minds and hearts to it. If you are struggling with a mental health issue and would like to speak to someone about it, here’s where to go:

  • Institute of Mental Health Helpline: 6389 2222 (24h)
  • Samaritans of Singapore Helpline: 1800 221 4444 (24h)
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386 1928 (9am to 5pm)
  • Speak to a professional or get a mental health check-up at CHAT

Remember, you are not alone! 💖

📸 Featured Image: Steven Ma (via IG), Epochtimes

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