Michelle Williams Opens Up About Her Own Experience To Send An Important Message About Depression

"So many people are walking around acting like they’ve got it all together and they’re suffering."

Trigger warning: This post discusses suicide.

Singer Michelle Williams, best known for her time in the group Destiny's Child, is getting honest about her struggle with depression. Her experience goes to show that mental health issues can affect anyone, no matter how successful or famous.

Williams, who first spoke about her depression in 2013, opened up during a guest co-hosting appearance on The Talk this week. She said she first began suffering between the ages of 13 and 15, but she "didn't know what to call it." These feelings continued during the height of Destiny's Child's success. It became so bad, she says, that she was suicidal.

However, Williams says she didn't know until her 30s what was wrong, saying she thought it was just "growing pains." She went on to make an important point about how it may not be obvious that someone — especially someone for whom everything seems to be going well — is struggling.

"So many people are walking around acting like they've got it all together, and they're suffering," she said. "For years, I'm in one of the top-selling female groups of all time, suffering with depression."

As Williams' experience shows, it can be all too easy for people to misunderstand the symptoms of depression. For example, when she told Destiny's Child's manager Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé's father) what she was experiencing, he told her, "Y'all just signed a multi-million dollar deal. You're about to go on tour. What do you have to be depressed about?"

Williams says she thought Knowles had good intentions, saying, "I think he wanted me to be grateful, which I was, but I was still sad." 

The issue brings to mind the experiences of such celebrities as Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, who died by suicide earlier this year. As the Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins recently noted, "It doesn't matter what's in your bank account, or how many hits are on your YouTube page ... It all goes out the window if you're not feeling right."

"I internalized everything. I didn't have an outlet," Williams said of her own struggle, noting that she would pray or "sweep it under the rug" instead of dealing with it. She previously shared in 2013 that she realized "God-gifted people" such as doctors and therapists could help her heal, encouraging others to seek professional help if they need it.

Williams shared that she hoped to "normalize" the discussion around mental health, and her openness has obviously touched people. She recently posted an email she received from a woman named Christine, who thanked her for having the "courage" to discuss her mental health.

"Letters like this comfort me letting me know it's ok to CONTINUE sharing my story that I actually share with millions of others!" Williams wrote in the caption. "Lord I thank you for this opportunity to use my platform to save lives and let people know they're not odd, crazy, WEAK, or alone.....they just need help and guidance!!"

She also reposted an image from the Calebs Kids Foundation, which supports mental health awareness and suicide prevention among young people. The post condemned several bullying comments about Williams' story. "Mental illness, depression, and suicide is no laughing matter," the organization wrote. "We commend the strength of @michellewilliams in telling her story."

Watch Williams discuss her experience in the video below:

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