Everyone inside the room immediately turned to look at her. During the star-studded launch of #IAmLustrousHearHerStory at Events 1771, everyone’s attention was at Gretchen Fullido, the TV presenter and entertainment news anchor who was making headlines and firing up Manila’s social media feeds with her revelations of sexual harassment.
Gretchen took it all in stride. She’s no stranger to being on the spotlight or to controversy after all her years working the showbiz beat. As one of the 13 women of sharing their story on mental health on the Lustrous platform, her story was particularly intriguing, not just because of recent events, but because many in the audience of select press and personalities could relate to her experience as a hard-driving, goal-oriented career woman.
“I thought that being busy, over-thinking, worrying and stressed is a norm.” In the video, Gretchen talked about how her life, particularly her 20s, was colored by a lot of anxiety and frustration, owing to her competitive streak and ambitious nature. “I felt it was the norm,” she says. Many Filipinas can certainly relate to that call for excellence and beyond. And while it’s healthy to strive for the better, some will fall into a trap of thinking they need to push themselves harder and harder with every success. The reasons vary—some feel obligated to their families and loved ones, others are pushed by their perfectionist nature and some even do it to please other people. Women, with their multi-tasking skills, are often called to excel in everything—their grades, careers, relationships and extracurricular activities—all the time. On the surface, with her trim and toned physique, perfectly coiffed hair, immaculate makeup and fashion-sense, high-flying career and bubbly nature, it seemed like Gretchen had it all—and oh so effortlessly at that. But on that fateful night, along with her peers like actress and Lustrous creative director Nadine Lustre, singer Kiana Valenciano, entrepreneur Michelle Asence-Fontelera among them, Gretchen opened up in a revealing film about her struggles with perfectionism. She mused about telling her younger self to ease up, that she didn’t need to over-think and to stress, which can be alienating. “We need to break the stigma. There’s so much pressure from social media, so much pressure from society. But the thing is, we’re enough,” she says.
She goes on to reach out to people with depression: “If we have symptoms of depression, let’s talk to somebody. It’s okay to talk to somebody. You’re not alone. Always remember that you’re not alone and it’s okay to seek for help.” After the film, not a few people teared up, remembering their own or perhaps a loved one’s struggle with mental breakdowns and other mental diseases. Seeing Gretchen stand up for herself and speaking up on her own experiences was certainly encouraging. For someone who has made a career telling other people’s stories, her own story is shaping to be just as inspiring.