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TV

Kimberly Crossman's surprise confession

The Celebrity Treasure Island darling reveals the silver lining to her mental health diagnosis

When Kimberley Crossman was put up for an elimination challenge on the very first week of Celebrity Treasure Island, the actress had "a very public breakdown".
"As soon as I got in that arena, with everyone looking and all the cameras pointed at me, I had a panic attack," recalls the former Shortland Street star, 31, who struggles with anxiety and depression.
"Normally, if I'm having those feelings of self-doubt or that voice in my head is telling me I'm not good enough, I step away or call a friend, so I can get a handle on my emotions, but in this situation, where I was away from all the comforts of home, like food and sleep, I just spiralled. It was horrible."
Fortunately, though she lost the challenge to league legend Richie Barnett, Kim was rescued by actor Joe Naufahu, who went home in her place so he could spend more time with his terminally ill mother.
"I had so many mixed emotions about that," confesses animal lover Kim, who was desperate to remain on the TVNZ 2 reality series to raise funds for the SPCA. "Yay that I got to stay, but I felt bad for my friend. I wasn't aware of this awful thing Joe was going through."
The actress – who also hosts the weekly podcast Inside Celebrity Treasure Island – was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety in late 2019, after a US sitcom pilot she'd starred in, a spinoff from hit series The Middle, was unexpectedly not picked up by the network.
"It felt like a done deal and I was planning the next seven years of my life," recalls Kim, who splits her time between Aotearoa and Los Angeles. "I'd always had negative self-talk, but when the show got cancelled, I reached a new low. I couldn't pick myself up out of bed. I couldn't shower. I was having suicidal thoughts.
"It spurred me to get professional help, which was scary because I hadn't done therapy before, but it was a huge pivot to turning that anxiety into something helpful, which has made
my life so much better.
"Now I try to reframe it as a gift that I operate differently – it gives me more compassion and understanding of others. Also, now that I can recognise what my brain is doing, I no longer feel like a passenger in my own life."
Farewelling Joe was a bittersweet moment for Kimberley.
Kim's ultimate dream is a lead role in a US telly series. She acknowledges, "Statistically, it's almost impossible, but it has to happen to someone, right? Why not me? I've put in the hours!"
However, being back in New Zealand during the pandemic, filming shows such as Creamerie and The Brokenwood Mysteries, has given her a greater appreciation for her home country.
"I love that Kiwis are selflessly staying at home as they know their actions could directly impact on someone else getting sick," explains Kim. "In LA, as soon as people are told to do something, their first reaction is, 'But it's my right!' There was a lot of pushback on masks. They'd rather go on holiday to Florida than keep someone's nana alive.
"The relationship I have with Hollywood is a difficult one. It kind of feels like going back to a bad boyfriend. But it makes me even more grateful for New Zealand. I love how obedient and empathetic we are – that we care about people.
"They're very Kimberley traits. I love rules and being told what to do because I'm a people pleaser!"
Help is here
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please call or text 1737. For the Suicide Crisis Hotline, phone 0508 TAUTOKO. In an emergency, always dial 111.

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