‘Survivor’ Castaway Reveals Personal Tragedy & Recovery

The cast of Survivor: Philippines, the 25th season of the show

CBS The cast of Survivor: Philippines, the 25th season of the show

A lot of Survivor contestants have said re-entering the world after playing is incredibly hard. And for some, there’s a second round of struggling when their season airs. Case in point: Lisa Whelchel of Facts of Life fame played on Survivor: Philippines and she said in a recent interview that she had to see a therapist after her time on the show and then had a second round of PTSD when her season aired. She also revealed that she got divorced right before she started filming, which put her in a very fragile state of mind right from the get-go.

Whelchel Said She Had A ‘Kind of Grief Reaction’ After the Show Wrapped

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Whelchel, who finished runner-up to Denise Stapley, said that wrapping the show was much harder than she was anticipating it would be.

“I cried for almost three straight days from the moment I walked away from Tribal Council. As a player, I think I just tried to hold everything in to play the game (with the exception of #SurvivorMeltdown, of course!) and the moment I was free to let down, it was like a flood. Thankfully, when I was still leaking tears months later, the Survivor therapist helped me not feel so foolish by explaining that it is not uncommon to experience a kind of grief reaction,” said Whelchel.

She went on to say that what she also was not prepared for was the “whole new round of PTSD when the season aired,” which was, “in some ways, even more traumatic” than when the show wrapped.

“When I was on television in the eighties, it was before the Internet and social media so, although I got my fair share of public judgment and even shaming, this was so much more. It didn’t help that I was more raw and open and undefended than ever before,” said Whelchel, adding that she didn’t tell anyone on the show that her marriage ended in divorce five days before filming started.

“I didn’t tell anyone this until after final Tribal Council. I landed in the Philippines only five days after my marriage of 23 years ended in divorce. Survivor is destabilizing on the psyche already; showing up in such a fragile state of mind and soul certainly made me ripe for some life-changing soul-shifting,” said Whelchel.

But She Worked Through It and Went Through Some Huge Personal Growth Recently

Whelchel revealed that after her time on Survivor, she did try to go back into show business for a while, but quickly remembered why she left the business in the first place. So she left show business again and went on an “interior journey.”

“My next endeavor was a yearlong ‘interior journey,” said Whelchel. “I traveled to India twice, did a 30-day silent retreat at a Jesuit monastery, participated in four Ayahuasca ceremonies with a Shaman in Peru and walked 500 miles across Spain on El Camino de Santiago. I also became a certified Co-Active LifeCoach, was trained to use the Enneagram, and received Level One IFS (Internal Family Systems) credentials. Most importantly, I got married and became a grandmother!”

But she also said she doesn’t regret going on the show because it helped her realize “there was a huge part of [her] that was desperate to live more fully alive” and that “[her] darkness is as beautiful as [her] light.”

Survivor hopes to film season 41 in the spring of 2021 for a fall 2021 premiere.

READ NEXT: ‘Survivor’ Contestants Who Have Died