The singer lifts the lid on her battle with anxiety in her new memoir, ‘Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life – and Can Save Yours.’
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Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland didn’t know that Michelle Williams was waging a private battle against depression at the height of Destiny’s Child fame and success. The 41-year-old singer makes the stunning revelation in her new memoir, Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life – and Can Save Yours.
In the book – which goes on sale on May 25 – Michelle reveals that she would suffer “pitch-black dark moments,” unbeknownst to her bandmates. “Our connection is real and it’s brought life to me in some of my darkest moments,” she writes about her friendship with Beyoncé, 39, and Kelly, 40. “And still, even living the absolute dream I was living, with two of the most amazing women as coworkers and best friends, there would be pitch-black dark moments.”
Michelle describes depression as sometimes feeling like “numbness.” “It’s this pervasive sense of nothing-matters-and-nothing-ever-will-really-matter that lingers in the background of every moment,” she writes. “When it’s like that I could sleep for a decade.”
At other times, for her, depression manifests as “toe-tapping, hall-pacing anxiety” that keeps her “awake all night.” Despite her condition lurking in the background during her time in the hit-making girl group, Michelle writes that she was “too busy, too focused, too distracted” to acknowledge it. “Beyoncé and Kelly had no idea what I was struggling with, but that’s on me,” she writes. “I never said a word to the two of them. I’m not even sure I had the vocabulary to say how I felt at that time.”
Michelle joined Destiny’s Child in 2000 during a turbulent time when two of the founding members (and Beyoncé and Kelly’s childhood friends) LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett left.
As a trio the women would go on to release some of the group’s most memorable hits, including “Survivor,” “Bootylicious” and “Independent Women Part I.” But they split in 2006.
During her time within Destiny’s Child, Michelle writes that she suffered from anxiety after years of being negatively compared to her bandmates. “For a lot of folks, it was Beyoncé, Kelly, and ‘that other girl,’” she writes. Admitting that she “dealt with an enormous amount of anxiety,” the singer confesses that she was bombarded with negative thoughts, like, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe I should quit. Maybe I’m not talented. Maybe I am a joke.”
Michelle ultimately wasn’t diagnosed with clinical depression until she was 30 – years after she left the group – when she went to see a therapist. Nearly a decade after that she checked herself into a treatment facility after having suicidal thoughts following a breakup with her then fiancé Chad Johnson.
Her book, Checking In, is part of her bid to remove the stain of shame from mental illness and to encourage people to seek help if they need it. “Depression is an assassin,” Michelle writes. “It acts like a silent, slow killer. And if you don’t deal with it, it can just swallow you up.”
Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life – and Can Save Yours goes on sale on May 25.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a certified listener.