The need to look after her own mental health became a pressing reality for Kim halfway through last year. Like so many people (and, in particular, so many women), Kim has always seen being busy as a matter of pride. For the past few years, she has been based in Los Angeles, working both there and back in New Zealand as an actor – she took 17 trips home in 2019.
But the wheels were starting to fall off. “I’d been trying for nine months to get my headspace right,” she says of her decision to see an Auckland-based psychologist last year. “I wasn’t very well physically or mentally and I knew that because my thoughts had changed, my behavior had changed… I thought I’d go and get some help. And then I was diagnosed with being burnt out and also being pretty severely depressed.”
“I didn’t quite know how to receive that information, because I’m not a sad person. It just highlighted my lack of knowledge about what depression is.”
Kim is quick to offer a self-deprecating eye roll about her situation. “I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here: ‘Oh, I’m an artist and I have depression, what a unique take on life,’” she laughs. But as much as working as an actor in Los Angeles sounds like the stuff gold-dusted dreams are made of, the reality can be completely different. She’s working as a freelancer in an industry that is as challenging and volatile as it is exciting and creative. Los Angeles, in a way, is its own gilded sword for an actor: a hub of possibility and stardom that can also feel isolating and competitive. The biggest difference between her life in LA and her life in New Zealand, Kim says, is that she’s not lonely here. “I have familiar faces here, and there’s a comfort level to that. There’s an element of loneliness in the States when you don’t have things or people that you’ve known for a long time.”
But the seductive nature of Hollywood is hypnotizing. “There is an air of possibility that life can change in an instant,” Kim says. And more importantly, she really, really loves her job. There is no love/hate relationship when it comes to acting. “I never hate it. That’s probably half my problem – I love it so much; more than living my life. The time between action and cut is when I’m the most present when everything else in my mind silences,” she explains. “I don’t know how to execute that in my real life, because it’s such an addictive feeling.”
But that all-consuming enthusiasm was taking over her life, and not in a good way. “My psychologist’s advice was that because a lot of what was going on was tied to the work I’m doing, and the travel I’m doing, that if that’s not going to change, then something else is going to have to change. So I stop doing what I love and go and live a zen life with a stable job… and at this stage in my life, that’s not an option to me. One, because I have no transferable skills,” she laughs. “And two, because this is what I love.”
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