Grammy Nominated and former Destiny’s Child star Michelle Williams recently released a new book, Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life.
”Though she had always struggled with low moods, in 2018 her depression deepened, and when she found herself planning her own funeral, she checked herself into a treatment facility. There she found the help she needed to live out the incredible story God was writing for her life,” reads an overview of the book.
Williams explained that the inspiration behind the title stems from the time she checked into a treatment center in 2018. While she wanted to keep her treatment private, when the news began to spread, she reluctantly spoke up about her condition.
“I remember at that time, I was kind of forced to tell it that I was in a treatment center because word had got out [and] it was about to leak,” revealed the songwriter. “I just felt embarrassed and humiliated. I [also] felt like a hypocrite at the time because this is the girl who sings when Jesus ‘Say Yes,” and this is the girl who talks about empowerment and inspiration.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than 50% [of people] will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.” Williams believes that she struggled with depression for a long time, stemming as far back as her childhood when she was bullied, causing her to feel unsafe. She tried speaking about it but was overlooked, she reveals in the book.
“In my twenties, while I was still with Destiny’s Child, I remember telling someone on our team at the time, ‘Hey, I think I feel like I might be depressed,’ and he was like, ‘What do you have to be depressed about? You guys just signed a multi-million dollar deal, You’re about to go on tour. You guys are about to release your own barbie dolls,’” the songwriter wrote.
That incident taught Williams that people aren’t always aware of mental health challenges. “I don’t think they’re trying to be dismissive,” she said. “I think people mean well when they say, ‘you’ve got so many good things going on,’ because they think you’re not seeing the good that’s in your life.”
However, she believes that people should change their response, saying things that are more empathetic to a person’s situation like, “I can only imagine how you’re feeling,” or “What, do I need to help you find a therapist?”
Williams revealed that some of her depression is also rooted in fear. When she was signed to her record label, for instance, she was told to go by Michelle, which is her middle name, rather than Tenetria because people would be more intrigued by Michelle. She revealed that she didn’t want to be considered the difficult one. Over time the author learned that “any time you think you make a decision out of fear, you risk whatever reward could have been earned from choosing courage.”
Since the release of her book, the singer has been hosting conversations with celebrities about mental health. In one particular segment, actress Taraji P. Henson advised people to be intentional with helping God with their mental illness.
“We pray about things, but then you got to go to work [and] you have to help God,” Henson stated. “God touched and anointed psychiatrists [and] psychologists out there that can help you.”
Many have been supporting Williams on her project. Both Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland have encouraged their co-member on her book.
Knowles said, “You are so inspirational to both of us and we love watching you become exactly who you are in the world. We see your impact, wisdom, beautiful advice, and discernment.