The Importance of Mental Health: Michelle Williams Shares Her Story
Video by Good Morning America
Mental health is important for all people. Depression can find you, celebrity or not. Michelle Williams, who got her big break with American girl group Destiny's Child (1997-2006), recently appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to discuss mental health and her personal struggle with depression. It was her first live interview since seeking treatment at a mental health facility near Los Angeles earlier this year.
Williams' experience with depression started when she was 13 years old. Since then, she experienced severe highs and lows and overwhelming existential crises. Around this time last year, she could feel the low sneaking up on her again - and it ended up to be one of the worst lows yet. She made the mature decision to get professional help and made self-care and wellness her priority. As someone who self-admittedly struggles with suicidal thoughts, this decision potentially saved her life.
"No one ever really wants to talk about it and it's so important," starts Good Morning America's Robin Roberts as she sits down with Williams and her fiance Chad Johnson.
When she started to feel low again, Williams identified the situation and fought her best fight, but it wasn't enough to keep her from drowning. Williams says she knew she had great things, but she questioned, "Why am I here?" She was continually questioning her existence. She wanted to keep it to herself because of the stigma associated with mental illness. In her own words, she felt like people would say "Here we go again" and she wouldn't be taken seriously.
We can start by changing the stigma associated with people who have mental ailments. Some people just need help, but they are not crazy. Someone you know might be going through it right now but is afraid to say anything. 1 in 8 women will experience depression at some point in their lives.
Williams says her experience in the hospital changed her perspective. "When I was in the mental health facility, I didn't see anybody who looked ‘crazy.'" Since then, she says she doesn't call people crazy anymore. She sets an example we should all follow, to be sensitive about the language we use in everyday conversation. Be aware of the impact words can have, and don't contribute to the stigmatization of this issue.
Another way to change the stigma is to talk openly about the issue. Make these conversations the norm. This will help eliminate the risk of guilt and embarrassment. Educate people who don't experience depression to know the signs and how to approach someone who needs help. Especially in school, physical health is often prioritized over mental health. Make mental health a focal point in schools and in society.
Williams points out that she had a lot of support during her hard times. The way so many people were there for her, we need to be there for each other. Support is so important for mental health. Even if the affected individual pushes you away, be there for them and don't take it personally. They need your compassion and empathy. Loneliness makes it much harder to come out on the other side.
"The ongoing outpatient care is so important," Williams says. "Don't get comfortable. Continue to do the work even when you feel better. Check-in." If you are affected by these issues, it's important to have someone you can trust to hold you accountable for your continuing wellness.
Keep trying to get better because one day, you will be able to look back and be thankful for everything you have. You will be thankful for where your journey has taken you. If you are dealing with depression, anxiety or any other illness, the most the most important thing is to take care of yourself and never give up.