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How mental training helped Ellen Adarna come out wiser from her 'rough, colorful, wild 20s'

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published May 03, 2023 7:16 pm

Ellen Adarna may have been out of the spotlight since she began her showbiz hiatus in 2017, but if there's one thing that's clear to her fans and followers, it's that the actress has been demonstrating some major growth in the past few years.

Ellen took a break from acting in the same year she was rumored to be pregnant with her four-year-old son Elias from her ex-boyfriend John Lloyd Cruz. The celebrity couple called it quits two years later, in 2019.

This and a few more tragedies led the actress to liken those years to being in a "very dark place." That is why the 35-year-old actress couldn't be more grateful for getting to enjoy a better life in her 30s than when she was still in her 20s. 

Ellen revealed this in her exclusive interview with PhilSTAR L!fe during Ultherapy's event last April 19 where she was introduced as the cosmetic clinic's newest ambassador.

She explained, "This has always been the life that I always prayed for. I’m at peace with myself and my temperament. But if I didn’t have a rough, colorful, wild 20s, I wouldn’t be here too so I appreciate the past na magulo and now at peace. Hindi ko naman ma-appreciate kung peaceful naman lahat 'di ba, dapat may balance."

Apart from acknowledging that she was in a "dark" and "traumatic" period of her life at that time, Ellen ultimately found peace by taking an intensive 14-day mental training, called Kokoro Program, in Bali, Indonesia in March 2020.

The program teaches participants the value of meditating as a key to managing the emotions they go through in their daily lives. It involves isolating for a week with no smartphones, as well as strengthening one's will and courage by walking for more than 24 hours without sleep, among many other things.

During her interview with L!fe, Ellen said that she took the intense training after experiencing "traumatic" events in her life that altogether happened in a span of four months the year she gave birth to Elias.

"It was an emotional pattern—toxic relationship and two weeks before I gave birth, my father died, and then postpartum. So very traumatic sabay-sabay siya," she said.

All these caused Ellen to be diagnosed with "post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, [and] depression," which she said she didn't want to talk about at that time "'cause when you're going through it, you don't really want people to know."

"It's kind of embarrassing," she continued. "You don't want people to see you like, 'Ah, kawawa naman siya, sinusumpong.'"

At that time, Ellen would have panic attacks which she described in a previous Instagram post as "really, really bad." 

"At first I thought I was going to die. Everything was getting hard, my muscles were getting so stiff, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then I'd just end up puking," the actress-entrepreneur said in the video posted on March 26, 2020.

She then explained to L!fe that she underwent treatment and drank tranquilizers for almost two years, but it did not give her the change that she truly needed.

"I was on medications for a long time. Not naman for a long time, mga 2 years, and it didn’t really work. Parang naisip ko, 'Yeah, the pill would make me feel not empty or sad,' pero I was numb inside. Parang it was just to mask or filter the problem," she recounted.

Ellen's mental training, she said, was her "last resort" which turned out to be the most helpful of them all. 

"Oh, in two weeks I felt like I was a newborn, like I was never depressed. The depression was like wala, parang, ‘What happened? How is this even possible?’' she told L!fe.

"Fourth day of my training, it was gone. I figured it out, I knew what was happening inside and after two weeks Nawala yung anxiety, nawala lahat. It all makes sense."

Now, the celebrity mom is living a "life with no bad takes" by constantly finding ways to "make good choices." And she's able to do that by, first and foremost, staying grounded especially during stressful moments.

"What I've learned is just to be calm. I handle everything with calmness and grace," she said, "It’s important to pause before you react…Actually, it has to be your mind, body, and soul are aligned."