SNL’s Bowen Yang admits going through mental health ‘rough patch’

Bowen Yang has given fans an update on his mental health journey after getting candid about his experiences this summer.

During the 2023 American Museum of Natural History Gala, the 33-year-old Saturday Night Live star told PageSix that he’s been improving since he experienced “bad bouts of depersonalisation”.

“My mental health is great,” the comedian told the outlet. “I had a really rough patch and people were very patient with me. It’s hard but you know, I barrelled through. I powered through.”

In July, Yang first addressed his mental health issues when he announced he was taking a break from his Las Culturistas podcast. In an announcement on his Instagram story, he said: “Taking a very short break from [Las Culturistas]. Bad bouts of depersonalization are ****ing me up bad, but I am doing my best to get better! Please take care, be soon.”

Three weeks later, the Wicked actor addressed his mental health hiatus, explaining that he had been encountering some issues with his anti-depressant Wellbutrin.

“So I was on Wellbutrin and — full transparency — I got a low dose of Adderall just to help with the travel, to help with adjusting to the hours,” Yang admitted, having taken the hiatus while filming for Wicked in London.

“It’s not working,” he continued. “I was talking to some friends last night about how Wellbutrin really is not doing it for a lot of people. And if it’s working for you, God bless. But Wellbutrin isn’t for me.”

Yang isn’t the first celebrity to admit to experiencing symptoms of depersonalisation, with musician Dodie and Counting Crows rocker Adam Duritz also reporting having depersonalisation-derealisation disorder.

Depersonalisation – which psychologists say stems from the underdiagnosed depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DDD) – occurs when someone regularly feels as though they are having an “out of body” experience, according to Columbia University. Derealisation occurs when you feel like your surroundings aren’t real and it feels like you’re in a dream-like state.

According to senior medical director of Columbia Doctors Psychiatry, Dr Jacques Ambrose, “DDD can cause significant distress and morbidity to the affected individuals, but it often goes undetected or misdiagnosed.” He added: “Delays in treatments also prolong the course of DDD.”

People diagnosed with depersonalisation-derealisation disorder either experience depersonalisation, derealisation, or both, all of which can directly interfere with their everyday lives and relationships.

This isn’t the first time the comedian has opened up about his mental health, having opened up to People for 2021’s Sexiest Man Alive issue about his experience being sent to conversion therapy by his parents as a teenager, and how difficult it was for them to accept his sexuality.

“There was a huge chasm of misunderstanding,” Yang told the outlet. “Neither side really understood where the other was coming from, and it led to very dangerous situations overall.”

“What was always constant was the intention of love from both sides,” he added. “It pushed me into questioning what it meant, what was protected and what I should be protective about in terms of being a queer person. I don’t take it for granted.”

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