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'I'll vomit every time before going on stage': Sezairi Sezali struggles with anxiety, has stomach scars from 'all the acid'

'I'll vomit every time before going on stage': Sezairi Sezali struggles with anxiety, has stomach scars from 'all the acid'
Sezairi Sezali shared about the stress he felt during Singapore Idol and how he copes with it now.
PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/Mediacorp

Even idols can get cold feet and Singapore's own Sezairi Sezali is no different.

In an interview with Jean Danker on a Nov 2 episode of R U Okay, Sezairi revealed his battle with anxiety and the extent of how severe it had gotten, even during his time in Singapore Idol 2009.

"When I was doing the whole Idol thing, something started to happen with my body, I wasn't sure why… I'll vomit every time before going on stage," the 35-year-old shared.

Recalling how he would go to the back of the old Mediacorp TV theatre to vomit, Sezairi said that the Singapore Idol crew knew about this and someone would prepare sour juice for him to drink afterwards.

Sezairi described the process as "frustrating" and said that he was put through an "unnecessary hell" before he got on stage.

However, once he sang his first line on stage, the feeling would miraculously disappear.

And at the time, he wasn't aware that his torment was caused by anxiety.


Said Sezairi: "I went to the doctors for it, I went to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist, and I was thinking it's because my throat dries up before I sing… that was the excuse I gave myself."

He would drink about six to seven litres of water a day back then, he said, thinking it was just a physical ailment that he had to deal with.

But his woes didn't stop even after he was crowned the champion of Singapore Idol in 2009.

On top of his daily responsibilities, he also had to think about his National Service (NS), which was right around the corner.

"I didn't even know what was in my mind, I was just jumping from one thing to another," Sezairi said. 

The growth of Twitter during then didn't help him either.

"There was instant gratification, but there was also instant feedback on everything that you did… and that took a huge toll on me."

Stomach ulcers and scars

Sezairi explained that there is a connection between the gut and the brain — where there's a problem with the brain, the gut reflects physical symptoms the quickest.


For him, his symptoms manifested as a need to vomit.

Said Sezairi: "Because of all the acid that was [building] in my stomach because of the anxiety, I have scars on my stomach lining now."

Recalling his first night in Pulau Tekong serving NS, Sezairi said that he woke up at 2am in a lot of pain and went straight to the medical facility on the island.

That was when he learned that he had stomach ulcers — but even then, he didn't think it was stress or anxiety that caused his problems despite the doctors telling him so.

"When the doctor tells you it's stress, you think it's the last thing they want to tell you because they don't know what's wrong," Sezairi said, adding that he had nightmares every night when he was in NS. 

"Truth be told, most of the time, it's stress."

Dealing with stress and anxiety

While many have their methods, Sezairi also shared his two primary means of dealing with the pressures he feels in daily life.

"For me, it's masking, in the sense that I'm very used to telling people I'm okay when I'm not, and that's something that we all can relate to," he said.

The other method of managing his stress is through therapy, but part of that comes from the encouragement he gets from his wife, Syaza, who he married in 2016.


Expressing his gratitude towards her, he shared: "I'm very thankful that I have a partner who's completely understanding and forces me to engage these kinds of things."

By her constant egging, Sezairi finally decided to see a therapist, which he had never thought about until about half a decade ago. 

He has maintained contact with a therapist since, and now goes for weekly sessions with them.

Speaking about the time he spends on himself, Sezairi added: "It surprises me how much time one person needs [to themself] to actually live a fulfilled life and actually be thoroughly happy."

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