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SYFY WIRE Amanda Tapping

Stargate Icon Amanda Tapping Opens Up About Her Mental Health Journey

The star of Stargate SG-1 and Sanctuary hopes that sharing her experience will help others. 

By Matthew Jackson
Amanda Tapping holding a mic

Like many people around the world, Amanda Tapping struggled with her mental health as the lockdowns and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic wore on. The star of beloved SYFY shows like Stargate SG-1 and Sanctuary went through many of the same things we all did — staying in our homes for weeks on end, missing friends, missing work opportunities — but with an added layer of tragedy. In August of 2021, she lost her mother to cancer, after watching her go through a depression brought on by the isolation of pandemic life.

“It was horrible to see her world instantly get so much smaller because she was immune-compromised and couldn’t go anywhere," Tapping told The Companion during a recent conversation about mental health and fandom. "I was very lucky that I went back to work after five months off. The show, Motherland, came back, and I was on it. I was getting tested three times a week, so I knew I was safe to see my mom, but her community got really, really small. And I watched her struggle and start to feel invisible, as she put it."

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Amid the loss of her mother, Tapping was able to return to work as an actor and director/producer, working on shows like Motherland: Fort Salem and the upcoming Dead Boy Detectives, but the continued stressors of a pandemic environment weighed on her, and made it harder to forge the connections that would help her recover.

“Let’s say that, it was easy for me to go down the rabbit hole, which I so often do," she said. "I felt isolated, and I felt scared and didn’t understand what was going on. There was a lot of anxiety about it. I understand the mask, and I understand why we all wore them, but it was hard. It’s really hard to breathe 14 hours a day on a film set into your mask with a face shield and just come home and feel like you’re oxygen deprived. I think we were all dealing with a lot, but I think losing my mom during that time… that sunk me. There wasn’t the sense of being able to go out and meet with friends and go for lunch and cry and hug each other.”

Fortunately for Tapping, she had the enduring and global community forged by the fandom of shows like Stargate, all of which led her to join The Companion for Amanda Tapping: Embracing Mental Health as a Fandom, a live virtual event in which she discussed her mental health struggles, raised money for various mental health organizations, and even broke the conversation down into smaller working groups to hear directly from fans who had mental health concerns of their own. It's all an outgrowth of Tapping's own larger realization that admitting that you're struggling is a key step toward getting better.

“When I’m I’m on a set, and there [are] 100-plus people looking at me, I will put on the happy face,” she said. “I will act super confident and happy. Because I know that that’s what people need. And they need to know that the leaders got it, and it’s all going to be okay. And I find the more positive energy that I put out, the more positive energy I get back. But equally important, when it’s safe, it’s so important to let that drop and be able to turn to your friends or your family or whomever and just let it go: ‘I am not okay today.’”

You can check out the full Amanda Tapping: Embracing Mental Health as a Fandom conversation archived on The Companion's website right now.