At the age of 37, Williams participated as a co-host on The Talk where she shared her personal journey with depression. She recalls suffering from an unknown illness at as young as 13 years old.
Due to the fact that depression was not discussed around her, it was difficult for Williams to find a solution or seek help. “I didn’t know until I was in my 30s what was going on,” she told her co-hosts on the The Talk. She often mistook her depression symptoms as “growing pains” or “becoming a woman.”
I didn’t know until I was in my 30s what was going on.
Women experience depression at twice the rate of men according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Williams recalls mentioning it to her managers and relatives; however, they were unable to sympathize since Destiny’s Child experienced tremendous success. This was an instance of Williams’ allies believing the misconception that you can’t be depressed and successful.
Rock bottom and seeking support
Williams’ depression eventually led to suicidal thoughts. It was finally the severity of the issue that made her seek professional help. “I was to that place where it got so dark and heavy, because sometimes you feel like, I’m the provider, I take care of people, I’m not supposed to be feeling this way,” she said on the The Talk.
After this public disclosure, Williams was spotted leaving a treatment facility in Los Angeles. She was not planning on disclosing her mental health incident but recognized she could use her platform for mental health awareness.
She posted an image of herself with her hand on her head, face free of makeup while sitting in a bathrobe. She expressed on her post how she was reflecting on the past two weeks: “So many people are suffering, hurting, hopeless, lost and don’t see a way out but there is. Depression sucks, but my faith in God and my commitment to doing the work to stay well is my way out! You have to do the work even when you’re tired and feel the heaviness. Take one step at a time!”
She encourages those suffering with depression that even the small steps like showering and brushing your teeth are a step forward. “For people dealing with depression, that is a HUGE step! Now don’t be depressed AND stinky…..pick a struggle!” she wrote on Instagram.
In response to her openness, Williams has received support from her fans as well as fellow peers. For instance, Missy Elliot tweeted: “I want to lift our sis up in prayer because there are so many people battling this & many trying to deal with it alone. Please no jokes this is REAL & as human beings let’s keep the ones who are openly dealing with it uplifted & be encouraging to them!”