celebrity

5 months ago, Sam Frost posted a controversial video about the vaccine. She doesn't regret it.

Warning: This story deals with mental health, anxiety and depression, and could be triggering for some readers.

From the outside looking in, Sam Frost has led a charmed life.

The bubbly Melburnian was chosen as the "winner" on reality dating show The Bachelor in 2014 - yes, she was unceremoniously dumped by Bachelor Blake Garvey a few days after, but she was then crowned Australia's first Bachelorette the following year. It was a very positive vehicle for her, and she endeared herself to the nation.

Frost parlayed her reality TV stint into a radio show with Rove McManus in November 2015. While the show ended in January 2017 after intense scrutiny and failed ratings [numerous hosts have tried and failed to revive the breakfast radio slot vacated by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O], by December that same year Frost had scored the role of Jasmine Delaney on popular soap drama Home and Away.

Despite some initial blowback, critics and fans alike lauded her performance and she was nominated for a Best Newcomer Logie in 2018.

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In the years since, it seemed Frost was thriving in her new career and forging friendships and romantic relationships with ease.

But appearances can be deceiving - perhaps even more so in this age of curated social media posts.

The actor, who has openly discussed her struggles with mental health, admits that she was struggling immensely last year. 

"I had the job I loved, I had a beautiful home, I've got my dogs... and I remember feeling in my core, I'm just not happy," she tells Mamamia. "I would spend the weekends alone at home with the curtains drawn and I'd sleep all day because I was struggling with my depression and my mental health.

"People assume that because you have a job on the TV or you've got this beautiful life displayed on social media or in the media, they think, 'how can you struggle with mental health?' But mental health doesn't discriminate. Anyone can struggle with it."

Isolated and alone, without the normal distractions of work, gym, and seeing her friends and family, Frost's mental state began to deteriorate.

"All of a sudden you're forced to hold a mirror up to yourself," the 32-year-old says. "And so all these things bubble up to the surface that you haven't dealt with. All the dark stuff bubbled to the surface for a few people."

It was during this mental maelstrom that Frost uploaded a video to Instagram revealing that she had not yet been vaccinated and asked for compassion and understanding for those who were in the same camp as her. 

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Australia erupted. Damnation came swift and fast from both media personalities and the general public. Frost left Instagram (she's back on it now) and kept a low profile.

To clarify, she is now fully vaccinated. She underwent a medical procedure - that she does not wish to disclose - before getting her vaccinations late last year.

"We need to be kind and compassionate to each other because you don't know why people have been making the choices they're making. That's my value as a human being. I don't judge people. And that was essentially what the whole video was about," she explains.

"I knew quite a number of people who were hesitant to take the vaccine... people weren't holding the space to have conversations. There wasn't a healthy discussion being had.

"In the same respect, I can understand people were angry, tired, exhausted and stressed. I know there were quite a lot of people struggling with their own mental health during that period of time."

One of Frost's initial hesitations with the vaccine had to do with a friend having a severe adverse reaction that led to a hospital stay. "And that made me go... you know, I think it's reasonable for people to be hesitant or nervous about a brand new vaccine. And I think it's unreasonable for people to assume that everyone's going to come to the same conclusion in the same timeframe," she argues.

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"That goes with all parts of life. I like seeing different perspectives and hearing different opinions. I like holding space and I feel like that space isn't there anymore. People are so quick to jump on the attack instead of just sitting back and listening, understanding, finding human connection. That's the saddest part about this pandemic. I feel like we're losing our human connection."

Sam Frost in her Instagram video. (Image: Instagram)

Despite the furore, Frost does not regret posting the video. "I don't regret anything that happens in life. I feel like it all serves its purpose," she tells Mamamia. "In doing that video, I learned valuable lessons. I learned a lot. I grew a lot."

In December last year, the actor made a commitment to herself: she was going to prioritise her mental health. That meant leaving her "dream job" on Home and Away and moving back to Melbourne after living in Sydney for around eight years.

"I feel the most like myself when I'm around my family. It's grounding. It makes me feel free and happy," she says. "I worked so hard for five years in a job I loved; I absolutely adored it and I wouldn't change anything. But after being away from my family for so long, I really needed to go home. I feel the happiest I've ever been in my life."

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Another cause for happiness is her recently released book, Believe, which delves into Frost's struggle with mental health and the dark periods she has faced in her life. 

"I've worked on the book for two years. And you go through it thinking, do I want to share this? It's extremely overwhelming, putting so much of yourself out there," she says. "It's all your baggage and insecurities, all the things that you think of that you don't tell people. It's all in the book.

"There's going to be people who judge. But since it's been released, I've received so many beautiful messages from people who have said they've read it in two days and it's really helped them. A few people have said that they feel like they were reading a story about themselves. So I feel like it's doing its job, which is what it's all about."

There's also romance in the air. Frost is dating Survivor Australia star Jordie Hansen, who is a friend of her brother's. When they met, Hansen was seeing someone for a couple of weeks and Frost was casually seeing someone too, so the timing wasn't right. It didn't work out for both of them with the people they were seeing... and the rest is history.

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"We're just really happy," Frost says, laughing. "I feel like he's coming to my life at a really great time... We laugh a lot. We got to know each other first, before anything happened. We realised we had a lot of similar values. Family is really important to us. We've had really similar upbringings. It's just really nice to have someone who you feel like is your match, you know? 

"All my friends and family just absolutely love him. And when they see us together, they're like, you two are perfect for each other."

As for her acting career, she's keeping an open mind. "I love acting. I want to keep auditioning. At the moment, I'm just focusing on my book," Frost says.

"But the fun part about life is you just never know. You never know what's around the corner. I'm just going to sit back and go with the flow of life and surrender to it and just see what happens."

Believe (Hachette Australia, $32.99) by Sam Frost, with Kristine Ross, is out now.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.