Heidi Mae Dishes On Her Time On Wife Swap, The Aftereffects, And How She Encourages Others To Speak Up – Exclusive Interview

When Heidi Mae released a TikTok video about her experiences on “Wife Swap,” she had no clue that it would become popular. But that’s precisely what occurred, and more than 1.5 million people have seen her narrate what is said to have occurred during the production of the reality program.

Mae began her TikTok by saying, “My family was on ‘Wife Swap,’ and it was the worst experience of our lives.” It was just awful. To appear on the show, we had to sign an NDA. It has been nearly ten years since So I made the decision to give up. ” Since then, Mae has posted other videos describing what happened while the cameras weren’t rolling, and it goes without saying that her candor has won the attention of the entire globe.

Nicki Swift sat down with Heidi Mae to discuss her experience as a family member on “Wife Swap” Season 6, the repercussions of being a reality TV star, and why she chose to finally come clean about her time on the show.

It was time for Heidi Mae to speak up.

Why did you feel it was time to address “Wife Swap” publicly?

The main issue was that I’ve been receiving therapy for four years. I mentioned “wife swap” to my therapist for the first time because I had finally reached a point where I felt comfortable discussing it with her. And when I informed her that the psych-eval was being utilized, she said, “That is immoral and incorrect in every way. Additionally, that psychologist shouldn’t be permitted to work. ”

I felt validated for the first time as a result. As I realized, “It wasn’t just me, you see.” The mistake was grave. And standing out for myself and taking charge of my story is something I’ve been working on in therapy. Since I was taught conservatively—though not as conservatively as the program implied—I was told to “turn the other cheek.” “Women shouldn’t speak up,” “sit down, shut up, nobody cares,” is a common refrain in society.

I just understood it was incorrect after discussing it with my therapist. Even now, ten years later, I still feel the effects of it. And the psychological repercussions of what occurred to me on the show are still with me. And I thought, “I tell you what. I won’t stand up for their reputation. I won’t keep quiet any longer. ” Because it’s safe to say that this didn’t only happen to me and my family, And being silent just encourages such behavior to continue.

Heidi Mae’s family has gotten closer after therapy

I regret that incident terribly. That must have been really challenging to overcome.

It was, indeed, And one of the really messed up things about the show is how they treated things that in my family were more like untreated illnesses, such as mental illnesses. They characterized my father’s extreme distance as a weakness in his character. However, my father genuinely had untreated PTSD from the Vietnam War.

Instead of saying, “Oh, this is PTSD; he can’t have the noise around him because it triggers him,” they presented it as him not wanting to spend time with us and having a personality flaw. But because they made it seem like a character fault, it discouraged my father from seeking help.

and farther from receiving a diagnosis. You’re a horrible father because of this, they were saying. And when you have a mental disease, you believe that your condition makes you weaker. It’s one of the rare illnesses that discourages people from seeking medical attention. Additionally, there is already a stigma attached to it. Well, you ought to be able to manage it. You can’t, why? Be cheerful and don’t worry. ”

He was further away from receiving therapy as a result of how the program exploited that information. Being on the show had a huge impact on my entire family. Although the program gave us counseling at the time, we were like, “Yeah, because we believe in you.” So we declined it, saying, “No f***ing way.” And yes, it was quite awful. The producers utilized the fact that they were aware of what I had said to the therapist to say, “Oh, we can break her on camera.”

How is your family doing these days?

My family is currently excellent, so. Two older siblings were absent from the concert because they weren’t traveling with us at the time. However, my parents, my dad, my sister Miranda, my brother Gabe, and I are all very close. We are all receiving treatment, which has been quite helpful in bringing us together.

From being conservative to accepting and understanding, my parents have changed. Hence, my parents My parents are quite tolerant, and it is clear that I am no longer conservative. They are quite receptive. Last year, I came out to my family as bisexual, which was another revelation from therapy. They were also really encouraging and kind. And yes, it was wonderful.

If you or someone you know needs help with their mental health, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text HOME to 741741, or go to the National Institute of Mental Health website.

An experience with DC Comics opened Heidi Mae’s eyes.

Are you shocked by your experience on the program, looking back? Or do you believe that is the standard for reality TV and that everyone experiences the same thing?

So, for a very long time, I believed that to be the norm and that everything was simply messed up. Then, seven years ago, I had the experience of winning a sweepstakes with DC Comics so that I could attend the San Diego Comic-Con. “Hey, we’re making a small documentary about the trip,” they say. “Okay, that’s OK,” I say. So they’re conducting one of the last interviews for this short film. It was so dramatic that I had to fight back tears. So the woman who was holding the camera approaches me and says, “Hey, I see you’re fighting back tears, and I know this is a really emotional time for you.” And if you did cry during the performance, do you think it would have a bigger impact on the audience? ? And I said, “Oh, absolutely.”

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And it wasn’t until much later that I understood the distinction between the two. DC Comics had requested my permission for anything and said, “Are you comfortable with this?” And if I declined, they weren’t going to pressure me. And it was very unlike the “Wife Swap” experience, when there was no such thing as permission and everything was staged. And so, in my opinion, it’s probably divided 50/50, with some of them acting that way and others acting otherwise.

Heidi Mae isn’t in a rush to return to reality TV.

Would you ever contemplate returning to reality TV?

It would take a close examination of the contracts if I ever considered it, which I don’t at this time. not paying attention. Before we signed the contracts, the program told my family and I a lot of things. And once the camera started shooting, none of it applied; only what was on the print. And I recall my father saying, “Hey, it states here that you folks may chop and splice recordings to make us say whatever you want,” as he was reading through the contracts. And the director and producer said, “Oh no, no, no.” It needs to be included, simply put.

My parents responded with, “Oh, alright.” Have faith. Absolutely, that’s what they did. And so, three years ago, I received a call from a singing program. Hey, we’d love to have you on the program. And I thought, “What’s your angle, then? What are you angling for since I’ve appeared on reality TV before? ” They left me to read after that. I said, “Okay, nice call,” after that.

Wife Swap was like a Game of Thrones for Heidi Mae.

You don’t want to be in a position where you have no control over how they will represent you or what they will splice together.

Yeah I also consider it because I do so occasionally. And if “We’re praying for this,” as Wife Swap has just mentioned, “Can you accomplish this?” It would have been very different from what they did, which was to mentally coerce us into that circumstance so that we were unaware of what was taking place. For me, it was very much so since I quickly understood it. I thought, “Oh no.” I had previously watched this show because they would say things like, “Oh, you guys should kick her out of your houses to stand up for your principles.” I respond, “No, I’ve already watched this show.”

Because it reminded me so much of “Game of Thrones,” I would stay up late trying to figure out what perspective they were pursuing. They knew how to get us since they had profiles for every adult on the program, including my parents, myself, and my brother. The producer and director were cast as good policemen and evil cops. My father was able to recognize the corrupt officer, but he was duped by the nice one.

He would subsequently begin to comply with their requests. And I think, “God, no, no. “He is not; it is not.” You are not important to him. ” As a result, I would be lying awake, anxiously trying to think of a way to save my family. Since the contracts state that they may sue you for $1,000,000 if you stop shooting, they hung this threat over our heads the whole night. So, we were unable to depart. We tried to give up but were unable to. For they are like, “You did sign this, after all.” Therefore, we’ll file a lawsuit against you.” So we were unable to depart.

I was thus only attempting to overcome it and go through the filming procedure. It was a nightmare, and I was so tense that I forgot to eat since I was unable to. I was simply always in a fight-or-flight mode. They didn’t say, “Oh, something is wrong with her, she is not okay, this is taking a toll on her,” but they just brought me my favorite dishes. No, they would just bring me my favorite meals and tell me to eat them.

Heidi Mae is hoping for change.

Given that a lot of people are watching your TikTok video, what do you think will change?

I produced the film in order to share what had occurred to me and to put it out there. And the reason I did it is because it bonds us when we share our experiences and look for commonalities. Additionally, it a) links us and b) has the potential to change if enough people become aware of and object to the way it is operated. But if everyone remains silent and is simply too terrified of what they could do to speak out about what happened, nothing will change. And for my family’s company, the concert marked the beginning of the end. Because people said, “Oh, your family’s so great,” everything fell apart. You are amazing. You have such an amazing tale to tell the world. They then insulted, ridiculed, and degraded us. And that had a terrible psychological impact.

Therefore, what that show did wasn’t only during the filming. The ramifications of it are still being felt. Even now, when someone says they like me or care about me, I still have the following thoughts in my head: “Which perspective do they take? Why are they attempting to manipulate me?” Due to my desire to never experience that again after being trapped in that scenario for 10 days without a way out, I immediately [thought], “What’s your perspective?” But are you sure you mean that? ” due to such knowledge. My parents also experienced the same thing. In contrast, they enjoyed making my mother weep on the show and then making fun of her afterwards. My mother thought that who she was was a joke as a result. And that doesn’t simply go away; it persists as well. “We’re OK, don’t worry.” This episode of the show has concluded. These consequences are still evident.

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So perhaps going ahead, shows will consider that and avoid placing individuals in those circumstances.

Yeah They asked, “Are you okay with this?” and I would have liked it if it had been written. Instead of being misled and then put in that situation, just say no and never go on the show. And I really hope reality TV programs understand that having a successful show doesn’t require inducing fight-or-flight in your competitors. The only reality program I enjoy is “The Great British Baking Show,” because it is so healthy and honest. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be an ongoing argument or shouting contest. It doesn’t have to be about making fun of someone to be amusing.

Going viral was unexpected.

Over 1.5 million people have seen your popular TikTok video thus far. How has it felt to become viral? And have you received encouraging feedback?

It was excessive. but in the finest manner possible. Because when the program initially debuted, I attempted to explain what it was like to others, but at the time, nobody was interested. They wished to accept the reality of all they saw on television.

They would then say things like, “Yes, yes, yes.” Yes, indeed. Okay. ” All of the suffering I had gone through at the time was thus discounted. It was therefore just something I carried about. On social media, I also avoided using my last name, in large part because I wanted to distance myself from it. I was embarrassed and ashamed of how they depicted my family, and I didn’t want anyone to know that I was that girl on the show.

I was thus astonished when the tale I had posted went viral, since I had not anticipated it. Afterwards, after reading the supportive comments and what individuals had to say, “I appreciate you sharing your experience. It was incorrect. ” It has a really soothing feeling. Since it was recorded in 2009 and shown in 2010, it was something I had always wanted to do. Since then, all I could think about was this embarrassing event that happened to me and which I was unable to disclose. sharing it and hearing someone exclaim, “Oh my God, I apologize. That shouldn’t have occurred at all. ”

What were some of the wackiest inquiries you received?

Ah, I see. This one, “Were you the mom on the TV?”, is my particular favorite. “No.” That one was peculiar. I did encounter a couple of folks that were similar. Not really a question, more of a simple, “Nobody is interested in you.” “Be quiet.” And I thought, “I’m going to stop sitting down and being quiet now, I guess.” nonetheless, alright. ” So, based on questions like that, I believe the mom from the show was one. It’s not an odd inquiry, but many folks merely wanted to know what episode it was. That’s pretty much all, in my opinion. They basically ask the same questions. “Are you close with the other family?” is an example. Which is no, but the reason is simply because it was a truly awful experience. And it’s difficult to keep in touch with someone who constantly brings up what you two have been through. So, yes. I was the mom, I believe, was the strangest one. They didn’t make the necessary connections there.

Heidi Mae is a huge fan of social media.

You have a wonderful social media presence. What are your plans for the upcoming year? Do you have any specific goals you’d want to accomplish?

Since Myspace, I’ve liked social media. And because it was before there was such a thing as influence, I was bullied back then when I had one. Everyone simply said, “Oh, she’s vain.” as a result. I’ve subsequently enjoyed social media as a result. I also enjoy creating humorous material and utilizing my platform to educate others about mental illness. because I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD. And receiving therapy for certain conditions still carries a lot of shame.

I therefore frequently discuss it in order to mainstream the idea that mental illness may affect anyone, regardless of how they may appear. And then I warn my followers, “Do not try to discover or harass this individual. Whenever stupid people say things, when they say something that they might not know is truly incredibly hurtful to someone suffering from mental illness, That is not the topic at hand. However, I just respond to that remark by saying, “Okay, so this statement. If you claim that this person is in pain, then you should explain why it’s bad for them.

Because of this, ever since I was a little child, I have always used the horrible things that have occurred to me as inspiration to do better for other people. always. Therefore, I believe that s*** simply occurs and that nothing has a purpose in my life. However, if I utilize it and if I talk about it and it helps someone else avoid it or suffer less, it gives that misery a purpose.

That is why I am extremely passionate about it. I’m just communicating to folks that they are not alone. Educating people about how awful, and beyond that, reality television can be When others said, “Oh, you don’t have trauma from the show,” in reference to the Wife Swap, I use that as a talking point because trauma is subjective; there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. And it holds true for those who may have never appeared on a reality show.

But a girl who DM’d me said that she had been bullied all of her life. They also disregarded her when she attempted to notify her guidance counselor. And when I told them, “That’s not trauma,” I felt awful. She then read my reply and thanked me for talking about trauma and how subjective it is. Also included is the relevant information. So, those are the only two things I do with my social media. I enjoy very, very cute stuff, especially fashion. Finally, there is mental sickness. Then just teaching, raising awareness, and normalizing the fact that having a mental illness does not make you weaker or less than. This doesn’t, It is not hostile to you. It doesn’t diminish who you are as a person.

If you or someone you know needs help with their mental health, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text HOME to 741741, or go to the National Institute of Mental Health website.

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She hopes to reach anyone that’s struggling

I appreciate you using your platform in that way. And it’s really horrible that a younger girl would hear that narrative.

Yeah Yeah And it was like “Suppress it” when I came out since I was reared in a pretty conservative household. I didn’t become aware of my bisexuality until three years ago. “Oh s***. No, I’m not straight,” I said. So I eventually discussed it. People DM’d me and thanked me for having the bravery to come out, saying it gave them hope. I came out on my social media and talked about it. Two people really came out to their family as a result of it. And I thought it was one of those things that made me feel a lot of emotion. But for me, being an influencer is about improving the lives of those who follow me, not about myself. I thus include all the unpleasant aspects of my narrative so that others may identify with me, read it, and perhaps learn something that will benefit them individually.

And it has always been my main priority. That and the desire to take my mother on vacation came about once I attracted enough followers to be recognized as an influencer. So this summer, I had the opportunity to accompany her to the red carpet premiere of “The Suicide Squad.” She’s very cute, and she got to be in my plus one. Her reaction is “Oh my God.” We communicate every day since my mom and I are very close.

My future goals are once COVID, if it’s even conceivable, which it might not be, becomes less of a thing. I wish to take my mother to Okinawa and travel to Japan during the cherry blossom seasons. My mother and I would want to vacation together to Greece. And speaking of fashion, I’ve always wanted to go to runway displays. because despite being quite small, I’ve wanted to be a model since I was 12 years old. Thus, it was just not an option. And because none of my parents had a college degree when my family launched their show, in addition.

My dad then worked in events as the sector evolved. He would thus be unable to support us. So my parents asked their six children, “This is the circumstance we’re in,” out loud. Are you guys interested in participating in the performance to support the family? My two elder sisters disagreed, so they did. However, I, along with my three younger siblings, agreed. So from the age of 12 to 25, I was in that. As a result, I stopped modeling because I believed that supporting my family came before pursuing my dreams. That’s also where social media first appeared. I thus regard that as a detour from the dream I had when I was ten years old. I suppose I might serve as an example for being. Sometimes-ish.

Heidi Mae has some influencer dreams

Your Instagram fan base is fast expanding. Is being an influencer your professional goal?

Since it was suggested that I could “do influencing full time,” I have wanted to. I only wanted to do it. I continuously strive to achieve that. I thus work five days a week in my job at the moment. I then focus on my social media on the weekends. I thus work five days a week, but I actually like it. So I’m just like, “Well,” as for me. I don’t; I feel exhausted at the end of the day, but I’m working toward the goal of being a full-time influencer so that I can take my mother on these vacations in the future.

Clearly, a significant portion of your Instagram and social media presence is fashion. Do you have any fashion role models or preferred brands?

I don’t have any style icons, but I do have a few companies that I really like. Currently, the Thai company PONY STONE has me completely enamored. Their products are quite distinctive, and their designs are totally unlike to those seen in the United States. I adore No Dress. I was captivated when I discovered them two weeks ago. Selkie, New Rock, and Mukzin. Oh, Heaven by Marc Jacobs is a brand whose designs I like since they are so distinctive. I’m attempting to recall all the recent deliveries of packages. Naked Wolfe shoes are also my obsession since in addition to being stunning, they are also surprisingly comfy. in order for me to wear them for eight hours.

And what hair color will you experiment with next?

I’m going to stick with pink, white, or purple, whatever I choose. I’ve done blue that went green, and it didn’t look well. And part of it still operates in that manner. However, since my mother also had pink hair, we now match. And it’s adorable. because she like it when our hair and clothing match.

Heidi Mae hopes to empower others

Do you want our readers to know anything else?

Just what I mentioned previously, I suppose. That is which. What I want your readers to take up from this is that they should a) never allow anyone to become the narrator of your tale. And don’t be hesitant to speak out about the things you’ve gone through out of concern for the worst-case scenario. Or perhaps it’s because in the past you were informed that nobody cared.

There is no upper limit to suffering or trauma, and it is never too late to speak up. I’ve been in treatment for four years, and the first time I felt joyful was two years ago. Additionally, the proper medicines and treatment were used. And I like being alive. As a result, I simply informed my followers, and I’d want your readers to be made aware of any mental health issues or traumatic or upsetting situations they may be experiencing. There is assistance available, and things do get better. Furthermore, they are in perfect health, and having through something traumatic does not make them any weaker or inferior to anyone else.

If you or someone you know needs help with their mental health, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text HOME to 741741, or go to the National Institute of Mental Health website.