Cyrell Paule and Eden Dally are two of the biggest characters from the last couple of years of Australian reality TV. Cyrell was one of the most memorable contestants from the most recent season of Married at First Sight, while Eden came second on Love Island in 2018. Unfortunately, being propelled to fame often leads to immeasurable amounts of scrutiny. Both Cyrell and Eden have experienced more than their fair share of online trolling, which have not subsided since they announced they are a couple and expecting their first child in February. As such, it's no surprise the pair have gotten behind Heart on My Sleeve, a movement aimed at encouraging people experiencing tough times to speak up and seek help.
On World Mental Health Day, they have both become some of the first people to make the Heart on My Sleeve pledge to commit to taking action around mental health. Below, they chat to POPSUGAR about the toll trolling has taken on them both and their pregnancy, as well as what they think needs to be done to eradicate online bullying.
POPSUGAR Australia: What inspired you both to get involved with the Heart on My Sleeve initiative and to take the pledge?
Eden: It was the online trolling that especially Cyrell received. People have said such things as "I hope you have a miscarriage," and have called her a black monkey. It's just disgusting what some people say. If this is the stuff that they are saying to us, then I can only imagine what other people are copping. Some people take their own lives over this stuff, there have been two people who were on Love Island in the UK who died because trolls were saying all these terrible things to them. They were so young and they decided to take their lives just because of a stranger's words. That's why we wanted to take the pledge, we wanted to let people know it's okay to speak up. Instagram can be good for many things, but it can also be very evil and bad for other things.
PS: What sort of toll has online trolling had on your mental health?
Cyrell: Well it did cause a lot of stress on my pregnancy. But before I was pregnant, right after the show, I did have depression there and had a lot of weight loss. The only thing that got it out of it was really having my friends and family to talk to about it. Not everyone has that capability though, unfortunately not everyone has friends or family they can speak to. That's why we love this cause, it helps people who are in need of support.
Eden: I don't really get too affected by it personally, I get more angry than affected. The only that was really hard was when my ex [Love Island's Erin Barnett] came out and said that I tried to kill her in a car, which never happened and there was no proof of. People just jumped on the bandwagon and called me a woman basher without hearing my side of the story. So, I think that was the thing that really affected me, that people can call me something I'm not just from the words of one person. That was probably the lowest and darkest time of my life.
Still to this day I get comments, the other day a 13-year-old commented that I was an abuser. Erin's video has like 2.6 million views, so unfortunately people are always going to see the lies. If I had done it, then I would have gotten help and made sure it didn't happen again, but it was 100 per cent fiction. For someone to use domestic violence to get their popularity up, well it's one of the lowest things you could do.
PS: What was harder for you guys to deal with, the way things were edited on the shows you were on or the way some of the audience reacted? Eden, was Love Island less heavily edited?
Eden: Nah, it was still edited, they only show an hour from a 24-hour period. On the show I said "watch me win this," I said it in a completely different manner to how it was portrayed but they cut out that one sentence to make it look a certain way.
Cyrell: What probably got to me the most was when my family, my mum and brother, got racist comments. They copped a lot of hate during that time when the show was on, which really affected me. I even felt a bit embarrassed to go into work at the time, because I knew what was getting said about myself and my family.
PS: What would your message be to anyone who participates in online trolling?
Cyrell: Personally, I don't see why it even happens. Before I was even on the show I would fangirl over people or not like someone so much, but I never, ever felt the need to get on a keyboard and saw such hurtful things. If I thought it then I kept it to myself, I just don't see the purpose of it. People should be made aware that words do hurt, and know how much it actually takes a toll on people. Because people can hide behind a keyboard, they think it's okay and that they can get away with it.
Eden: I feel like people who troll us say that they don't like trashy TV, so it's just like, "well then don't watch the show." I think trolling is weak and cowardly. They [trolls] go on and on about people [from TV shows] who they think are bullies, but look at the nasty, terrible things they're saying. They're contradicting themselves and being hypocrites. As I keep saying, there's no point talking about these trolls forever if we're not going to do anything about it. People suggest that you get off social media, but why should the people being targeted have to get off social media when they abuse shouldn't happen in the first place?
I think reality TV shows need to do more to protect their contestants, because being on these shows opens up the floodgates to getting abused. You get some really good things out of it, but you get some people who say these nasty horrible, things. It'll never stop unless we put laws in place, fines or place or track down and name and shame the people who are doing it.
PS: What do you both personally think leads someone to participate in online bullying and trolling? Are there any underlining factors?
Cyrell: I think it comes down to personal insecurities and unhappiness on their end. There must be something going on there mentally for them to want to make other people feel low. For the people who are actually trolling, I think they should seek help and find someone to talk to. You'll find that most people who are trolling are probably the saddest and the loneliest people. If anything, they're probably the ones who need to do the Heart on My Sleeve pledge and try to talk to someone in case it helps them in any way.
Eden: People think they know you, in some ways it's like they want your attention. We're guilty of replying to these comments, I do it and Cyrell does too. They get this attention and it makes their day to get a reply back to a nasty comment.
PS: I've seen people who have made fan accounts for certain contestants and they lash out when they don't get recognition. . .
Cyrell: Yeah, that happens all the time! Sometimes I'll see messages from people that will say "I love you Cyrell, you're so lovely," and sometimes you just don't have the time to reply to every single person. So, then the next message will be something that is based on my race or calling me a bitch. I'll be like, "how did you go from saying you support me through and through, to hating me just because I didn't reply to you?" Like Eden said, sometimes it is just to get something out of you, so it's unfortunate but now I don't even write to anyone anymore because of what happens when you do respond sometimes.
PS: How do you guys think we can hold these people to account, when a lot of people make fake accounts so they can troll anonymously? How can we police trolling?
Eden: Well you can track people down even if they have a fake account, you can find out their IP address. I think they should employ people to track fake accounts down and give them a massive fine to put them off ever doing it again, or charge them with affray for causing a public disturbance. That's a serious charge. These are things that are going to have to be put in place, because I'm telling you it will never, never stop unless we do something about it.
PS: Cyrell, you recently posted an Instagram where you said you guys have cropped hate for being in an interracial relationship. What do you think needs to happen in Australia to help eradicate racism?
Cyrell: Well I don't think people are born racist, I think it's what some people get fed from such a young age, what they learn and what they're surrounded by. Unfortunately, I don't think it will stop until we live in a better world, it's almost 2020 and it's still going on. Eden gets so many messages calling me racist names, so I see my partner sitting there arguing with these people and defending our relationship. It's sad, but I can't tell you how we can make it stop. I do think it begins from us, it's time to move on.
PS: You guys have been through quite a lot since you got together, how have you two supported each other when dealing with tough times?
Eden: We talk to each other and we're there for each other. It's a part of life that you have some good days and you have some bad days, that's just human nature.
Cyrell: Like I've said, I think it's great that I have Eden, my friends and family when not everyone has that. Being able to speak to someone really helps.
PS: What other strategies do you both have to deal with difficulties in life?
Eden: If I'm really mad I just hit the gym to get my mind off things, and Cyrell will go have lunch with her friends and catch up for a coffee or something like that.
Cyrell: I think it's important to leave the house and not be secluded with your thoughts. Do whatever makes you happy! I have a thing with scenic views, so whenever I'm really stressed out. . .
Eden: -She looks at me!
Cyrell: I said scenic views honey! [Laughs] Yeah when I'm stressed I like to go for long drives and look at water at the beach and just sit there. Each to their own!
PS: Obviously you guys are in a unique position being public figures, but what would your advice be to anyone dealing with mental health issues?
Eden: I think just to speak up. Some people may be shy or embarrassed and bottle it up, but the best way to get help is to let people know. Cyrell and I want to organise a day where we're out in the public and do fun activities and speak to people, and all these strangers can become friends. We're hoping to do something like that. It's not weak to speak!
PS: On a lighter note, how is your pregnancy going Cyrell?
Cyrell: It's been good! I wasn't getting morning sickness, I was weirdly getting afternoon sickness. Every afternoon I was vomiting. Now, because I'll be 21 weeks along this weekend, I'm finally feeling him moving around inside. Right now, it's probably one of the best bits of being pregnant, and I can't wait until he's big enough for Eden to feel the movement too.
PS: You recently announced you are having a boy, what are your main values you think you will want to instill in him as he grows up?
Cyrell: Well that's another big reason as to why we wanted to join this campaign, as our child is copping a lot of hate already before he's even been born. As a parent, I hope he grows up into a world where none of this bullshit is still going on. My main advice I'll give my son is to always be strong and to know that his parents love him no matter what. Give love like we do! [Laughs]
Anyone interested in also taking the Heart on My Sleeve pledge to commit to keeping it real can do so here: