Look Who’s Crediting the Lord for Her New Outlook
'Thank you, God, for my life, my energy, and my capacity to grow in love,' says pop star Janet Jackson after battling depression
Janet Jackson, the sister of music legend Michael Jackson, discussed her lifelong battle against depression in a heartfelt letter to readers of the most recent issue of Essence magazine.
The Grammy Award-winning artist opened up about her struggle with mental illness — and the inspirational way she has dealt with the debilitating condition.
“When it comes to happiness, I’m no expert,” Jackson confessed in her letter.
“I have only my life experience as a guide. I’ve known great happiness and great sadness. But I guess the key question is, What do I really know about happiness?”
She discussed some of the most trying times in her life, noting the challenges of her 30s.
“These were difficult years, when I struggled with depression,” she said. “The struggle was intense. I could analyze the source of my depression forever. Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition.”
Jackson, a renowned international pop sensation, even questioned the way she looked.
“I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. For most of my life, that lack of happiness followed me,” Jackson wrote. “I wish someone had said, ‘You look fine. You look healthy. Being a little chubby is the least important thing in the world. Enjoy your childhood. Enjoy running and laughing and playing. Stop looking in the mirror and comparing yourself to others.'”
When she hit her 40s, she said she experienced more highs and lows.
“Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value,” Jackson wrote. “Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”
Jackson has a son, 17-month-old son Eissa Al Mana. His arrival made a tremendous difference in her life, she said, and she looks to God as the source of all the happiness she feels.
“The height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness,” Jackson said. “When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness is in gratitude to God. Happiness is saying, ‘Thank you, God, for my life, my energy and my capacity to grow in love.’ ”