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Forbes: Michelle Williams Of Destiny’s Child On Life After Depression

Michelle Williams Of Destiny’s Child On Life After Depression

by Forbes Contributors: Pauleanna Reid

Today mental health is increasingly reported about in the media, yet is still a topic absent from school lesson plans and for many, an unspoken stigma not discussed at home. One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by the age of 24. Those who suffer silently struggle to stay afloat. Some struggle to stay alive.

Singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and former member of Destiny’s Child, Michelle Williams, is no stranger to mental health issues. While publicly Williams seemed to have it all (as part of one of the top-selling female groups of all time), she was silently suffering for decades. As Williams describes, “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. So none of your career accomplishments, none of that even matters.”

It took a while for her to recognize her symptoms as a condition, until it became undeniable, “the weight of internalizing things for years. Therefore, there are symptoms of heaviness. 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 2017, she spoke publicly about suicidal thoughts (which occurred many years prior) and then watched as sensational headlines swept the country. Williams is now focused on making sure that young people share their own stories.

In a five-year period, rates of severe youth depression have increased from 5.9% to 8.2%. Millions of these young people have depressive episodes but do not receive treatment. It is critical to keep the conversation going not only about mental health conditions amongst youth and young adults but to also encourage them to seek help.

In being so open about her mental health, Williams is not only breaking down the stigma surrounding what it looks like to live with depression, but showing us that treating your mental health is just as important as tending to your physical health. Maintaining good wellness takes work.

The first thing that Williams encourages others to do is to cultivate a circle of mentors, friends, family, and therapists for support. “I had a tribe. I had my best friend, an amazing therapist, my manager walked with me. I mean just showing so much compassion. 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 knows the detrimental affects that living under the gaze and judgement of others can have on you, noting that young people should not fall into the comparison trap of social media. “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. I’m not going to turn to Instagram for advice. I purged my account. I stopped following stuff that was making me sad and have anxiety.”

Earlier this year, Williams realized she needed to take a break from her every day and entrepreneurial ventures, “I did 90 days of nothing and it was some of the most excruciating 90 days – it was intense moments of letting stuff go, having hurtful conversations that needed to take place, therapy, bible study, and more.” She encourages people to prioritize their health and well-being before their work. Take time to create a sanctuary within yourself to reflect, seek therapy or treatment with medication.

“I want people to know that you don’t have to let depression have you. You have to say ‘We are not going to let this win.”

Winning to Williams looks like having piece of mind and being an advocate for the voiceless. “Success, to me, is the flood of emails I received after I was on ‘The Talk’ and speaking up about depression. People were like, ‘Thank you so much I am going to go get help now’.”

The people who began sharing their own struggles with her — leaving comments, writing letters, and even stopping her on the street; these are individuals who recognize that there is life after disappointment. Using her platform to serve a purpose, Williams has given fans hope and a vision for themselves. She encourages them all to continue to contact her. Now speaking from a healed place, William’s cites: “There’s more to this than just doing it for myself. It’s really about affecting people positively.”

Source: Forbes.com

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