Playing Haley Dunphy, the vacuous and carefree daughter on the sitcom Modern Family, was galaxies away from actress Sarah Hyland's mindset. Despite the glamour and privileges that come with being a star on a top-rated TV show, Hyland was quietly writhing in pain so agonizing that she even considered taking her own life.
Hyland revealed her shocking struggle on Friday's edition of The Ellen Show while talking about the latest plot twist involving the pregnancy of her Modern Family character. The source of the pain was the affliction surrounding kidney dysplasia as well as the transplant surgeries to correct the diagnosis. In the interview with host Ellen DeGeneres, Hyland added that the pain manifested itself into a number of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
“I have an amazing job and an amazing support system but after 27 years of being sick and in chronic pain every single day, you don’t know when you’re going to have the next good day,” she said. “It’s really hard.”
Hyland's had the condition's all her life, caused when the kidneys don't fully develop in the baby before birth. The underdeveloped areas eventually are filled with unfiltered urine that creates cysts instead of regular kidney tissue. After she was born, Hyland required constant dialysis and two kidney transplants. Her father donated a kidney in 2012 but Hyland's body rejected it four years later. Her brother donated a second organ in 2017, which is still functioning.
Adding to the pain is gout, another painful condition that's added to the struggle. Further medical complications include endometriosis and an abdominal hernia. The combination of all these conditions has resulted in 16 surgeries, including six in the last year and six since 2017.
What's helped Hyland is current boyfriend and former Bachelor star Wells Adams, who's offered emotional support. Also lending a hand all these years has been family and friends, including the cast of Modern Family, her second home since 2009. While Hyland realizes she's lucky to have such a network, she urged those with similar mental conditions to seek help.
“Every person with their anxiety, or depression, or suicidal thoughts, every individual is different," she said. "So I wouldn’t rely on everything I say, I’m just sharing my story. But I think talking to someone and saying it out loud really, really makes it sound almost ridiculous and puts everything in perspective.”
Modern Family is slated to finish its series run this spring, and while Hyland hasn't revealed any future projects, at least fans will be able to see more of her in a forthcoming movie. She filmed the romantic comedy The Wedding Year during Modern Family's summer hiatus in 2018. In the outing slated to drop this year, she plays a Los Angeles photographer determined to stay away from the altar despite receiving several wedding invitations from her friends eager to tie the knot.