Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Michelle Williams is getting candid about her journey with depression and prioritizing mental health in her memoir “Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life — and Can Save Yours.” She opens up about suicidal thoughts; the importance of her faith, family and friends; and the lessons she’s learned about prioritizing her mental health.
“Everything is not perfect,” William said in an interview on CBSN. “And that is OK.”
As a longtime advocate for mental health, the Destiny’s Child band member urges people to understand the importance of “checking in” with themselves, with God, and with others — a journey that is not a “one-and-done” thing, but a tool a person can utilize daily.
According to the CDC, mental illnesses are among some of the most common health conditions in the U.S. More than 50% of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Yet Williams reveals that she felt “like a hypocrite” in 2018 when she checked into a treatment center for depression.
“I remember feeling embarrassed and humiliated. I felt like a hypocrite, at the time, because this is the girl that sings ‘When Jesus Says Yes.’ This is the girl talking about empowerment and inspiration and I found myself in need of some help,” she said. “I found myself telling people to do the same thing that I had been telling people to do for years, which is to get some help if you find yourself overwhelmed.”
Being famous and a member of one of the most successful girl groups of all time does not shield a person from difficult human experiences. In her book, Williams tackles misconceptions involving mental health that she secretly grappled with during the height of the group’s success. Not even bandmates Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland knew she was struggling.
When she finally disclosed her feelings of depression to a member of their team, Williams said, “He was like, ‘Y’all just signed a multimillion-dollar deal, you’re about to go on tour, what do you have to be depressed about?'”
Williams wasn’t clinically diagnosed with depression until she was 30 years old. In 2017, during an interview on CBS’ ” The Talk,” Williams revealed that the person she opened up to was then-manager Mathew Knowles.
She told CBSN she believes people mean well and are not trying to be dismissive when they say “you’ve got so many good things going on.” But she says that with more tools and resources available, our responses to someone seeking help should change.
In her book, she asserts that “I need help” are the strongest three words a person can say. She told CBSN that when someone is approached with those three words, their response should be, “You know what? I can only imagine how you are feeling. How can I best serve you during this time? I’ll hold your hand. Do I need to help you find a therapist? What can I do to help you in this time?”
If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text a crisis counselor at 741741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
“Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life — and Can Save Yours” goes on sale on May 25.