Janet Jackson Opens Up About Depression Struggles

By Victoria Kim 06/26/18

The pop icon penned a personal essay about mental health and her quest to find happiness for Essence magazine.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson is the latest celebrity to disclose her personal battles with depression, which she traced back to her childhood.

A letter written by the iconic performer and youngest of the famous Jackson family is featured in the July/August issue of Essence magazine, in which she describes to readers her experience with depression and her quest to find happiness.

“I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense… Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards,” Jackson wrote. “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 through it.”

Her negative body image fed into her feelings of inferiority early in life. Jackson began performing at a young age, appearing in the variety show The Jacksons at age 10.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. For most of my life, that lack of happiness followed me. I wish someone had said, ‘You look fine. You look healthy. Being a little chubby is the least important thing in the world. Enjoy your childhood. Enjoy running and laughing and playing. Stop looking in the mirror and comparing yourself to others,’” she wrote.

This feeling persisted through adulthood, and happiness was “elusive,” Jackson said. “In my forties: Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value,” she wrote. “A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”

The “All for You” singer says she's “no expert” when it comes to happiness. “I have only my life experience as a guide. I’ve known great happiness and great sadness. But I guess the key question is, what do I really know about happiness?”

But the singer says she’s found peace in caring for her one-year-old son, Eissa.

“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,” he wrote. “When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness in gratitude to God. Happiness is saying, ‘Thank you, God, for my life, my energy and my capacity to grow in love.”

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