Singer Michelle Williams Discusses Depression In New Profile

By Paul Fuhr 01/29/18

“It is a profound sadness, a profound worthlessness, which even after you have accomplished so much—you feel worthless.” 

Image: 
Michelle Williams

Singer-songwriter Michelle Williams quietly struggled with depression, despite being a member of one of music’s greatest R&B groups of all time.

In a new Forbes profile of Williams, the former Destiny’s Child singer revealed that she dealt with depression for decades. “It is a profound sadness, a profound worthlessness, which even after you have accomplished so much—you can be the best wife, mom, artist in the world but you don’t feel like that—you feel worthless,” she said. “So none of your career accomplishments, none of that even matters.” (Destiny’s Child sold 60 million albums worldwide between 1997 and 2006, not to mention earning critical acclaim and countless awards, including several Grammys.)

Williams, for her part, hopes that by opening up about her depression, she will help others who are struggling to find help much sooner than she did.

According to Forbes, Williams didn’t simply struggle with depression—she struggled to understand that she even had it in the first place. The singer admitted that she had a difficult time recognizing the warning signs. “There are symptoms of heaviness,” she said. “You can feel so drained that you literally want to sleep your life away. Then relationships begin to not work out right, which on top of unhealed and unresolved issues, it just took me over the edge.”

In fact, last year, Williams confessed that she had suicidal thoughts at the height of her Destiny’s Child fame. “I got really, really bad,” she told CBS’s The Talk. “I wanted out.”

Still, Williams acknowledged that she’d experienced depression as early as when she was a young teenager, even though she didn’t know how to describe it at the time.

Williams has joined an ever-growing list of celebrities willing to discuss their private struggles, which goes a long way in breaking the stigma surrounding depression. The singer recommends that others first build a support structure around them, with friends, family and mental health professionals.

“I had a tribe. I had my best friend, an amazing therapist, my manager walked with me. I mean just showing so much compassion,” she told Forbes. “You need people who are invested in you, who say, ‘You got this. What do you think you need? We’re going to get it for you. Is it going to the doctor? Is it going away for 60 days? What is it?’” 

Williams also encourages others to avoid social media or, at the very least, stop comparing themselves to others online.

“Do not measure your purpose or progress. Social media will have you thinking that you have to be doing something within a certain amount of time because you always see people posting their highlights,” she warned, noting that she deactivated her Instagram account and “stopped following stuff [online] that was making me sad and have anxiety.”

She further emphasized that people should always put their personal health and well-being above their work. In the meantime, Williams continues to draw fulfillment and purpose in inspiring others to conquer their depression.

“Success, to me, is the flood of emails I received after I was on The Talk and speaking up about depression,” she said. “People were like, ‘Thank you so much I am going to go get help now.’”

As a singer, it’s especially fitting that Williams has given a voice to countless people silenced by their struggles. 

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.

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