Despite her youthful and effervescent appearance, Janet Jackson struggled with depression in her 30s. The Essence Festival headliner opened up about her bout with the mental illness to Essence Magazine, revealing details she’s never before shared.
“These were difficult years, when I struggled with depression,” she said. “The struggle was intense. I could analyze the source of my depression forever. Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way way through it…”
Janet attributes her depression to her childhood. According to the icon, she struggled with her appearance. “I was happy when my brothers came home from performing on the road. I was happy when my mother lavished me with love. But I wasn’t happy with the way I looked…”
Janet was suffering, but admitted she found happiness in her career. “Happiness came when people asked me to perform…but I was happiest when I was pleasing others and not myself.”
In hindsight, Janet would her younger self, ‘True happiness is knowing you’re doing the best you can…’”
Ultimately, Janet has found peace and joy in her baby boy. “Now the height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness. When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness is in gratitude to God…” she wrote.
Janet’s open letter comes at a time when the conversations around mental health are at a high. Her bravery will surely help someone who may be struggling on the inside and trying to keep a smile on their facade.
Pick up the July issue of Essence Magazine on newsstands June 22.