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"I couldn't breathe." Natalie Bassingthwaighte on what triggered her six-week breakdown.

One morning in March last year, Natalie Bassingthwaighte woke up “frozen”.

She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t talk. That feeling lasted for six weeks.

The night before, the Australian singer and actress had been talking with a colleague at a function about their busy work schedules.

How their lives were so full on. How they were busier than ever. Bassingthwaighte’s colleague even half-joked about how her son hated her because she was working all the time.

It was this conversation the 43-year-old believes ultimately triggered her breakdown.

Natalie Bassingthwaighte spoke to Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright about raising a family when you work in the entertainment industry in the video below. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

In an exclusive interview with Stellar magazine, Bassingthwaighte shared the private, personal struggles that contributed to her poor mental health at a time in her life and career when, from the outside, it looked like she had everything.

“Even though it may have been said in jest, [what my colleague said the night before] really hit me. The next morning, I couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying. I was curled up in a ball. That lasted six weeks,” she said.

“I was so fragile, I didn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone talk to anyone… my head was just full of negative talk.”

One factor Bassingthwaighte said contributed to her breakdown was the physical and emotional strain of feeling like she had to be constantly working and earning money.

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Since her breakout role in the stage musical Rent in 1998, Bassingthwaighte has consistently worked, both as the lead singer for the Aussie dance group Rogue Traders and with her own solo music career as well as her career in Australian television. She’s had roles in Neighbours, The Wrong Girl, Underbelly and Brock, as a talent show host and judge on So You Think You Can Dance Australia and The X Factor in Australia and New Zealand, and as a contestant on the 2017 series of reality show I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

“There’s a lot of fear in this industry. There’s always this façade, but everyone feels crap about themselves sometimes,” she told the publication.

“In this industry people don’t talk about [the fear of not earning money] enough. Sometimes you only work three months a year. But the perception is you’re rolling in it. You have to pay your bills.”

 

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The mother-of-two to daughter Harper, eight, and son Hendrix, six, with husband Cameron McGlinchey also spoke about struggling to deal with the loss of her long-time agent and friend Mark Byrne. Byrne died suddenly of a heart attack in 2014. He was only 45.

Feeling “so lost” without Byrne, Bassingthwaighte said she bottled up her grief and continued working right up until the day of her breakdown. She also admitted she had tried to wean herself off the small dosage of antidepressants she had been taking for around 20 years.

Now, she’s doing a lot better after “slowly building herself back up”. For Bassingthwaighte, what worked was a combination of adjusting her mental health medication, Pilates, meditation, yoga and personal training.

Mamamia’s Rachel Corbett spoke to Natalie Bassingthwaighte about what it’s really like to start your own Instagram business on the Lady Startup podcast below. Post continues after audio.

This year, Bassingthwaighte is joining the likes of Casey Donovan, Alinta Chidzey and Jason Donovan in the 2019 revival of the stage musical Chicago. She also continues to run her own children’s clothing label in Chi Khi, which she started in 2015.

“I wanted to figure out what I could do on my own that didn’t rely on my agent or producers or whatever, I just thought something that I would really love and I was always into interior design and architecture, so I knew it needed to be something kind of design-based,” she told Mamamia’s Lady Startup podcast in March.

Ultimately, Bassingthwaighte said she’s grateful for the breakdown because it was the life reset she needed.

You can read Stellar’s full interview with Natalie Bassingthwaighte here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental illness, please seek professional help or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 to talk to someone. If you’re in immediate danger, call 000.

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