Naomi Judd and Selena Gomez have more in common than a career. The two singers have recently opened up about their struggles with mental illness and fame, and now Judd is reaching out to the young performer to offer advice and praise.
In a recent pre-taped interview with ABC News, Judd, 70, revealed for the first time that she had battled “completely debilitating and life-threatening” depression and anxiety that led to a stay in the psychiatric hospital. She bravely shared that the condition had impacted every aspect of her life from her career to her relationship with her children.
Her announcement came shortly after Gomez, 24, returned to the spotlight after taking time off to tend to her emotional health. The young star made her first public appearance at the 2016 American Music Awards to accept the award for Favorite Female Artist- Pop/Rock and gave a powerful speech about the importance of emotional health and taking care of yourself.
"I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside," Gomez emotionally said.
Her words moved Judd, who has been working on telling her own story of self discovery in her upcoming memoir from Hachette Book Group, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.
She decided to respond to Gomez in an open letter exclusively provided to Womanista from the publisher and her agent.
In the letter, which is published in its entirety below, Judd shares details of her own past and applauds Gomez for "being a role model" in publicly speaking out for mental health.
Thank you for being open, honest and raw with your story. I was so proud to see the music community embrace your authenticity, and I want to tell you that I, too, stand with you and cheer for you.
Like you, I had everything, but felt absolutely broken inside. Several years ago, I felt like my purpose in life, of touring and performing, was over. Most people would look at my career and think ‘how in the world could she be depressed about anything?’ I have won numerous awards, traveled the world doing what I love, had the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people, perform in front of thousands of cheering fans and beat a death sentence when I was cured of hepatitis C. But on the inside, I was broken. Shattered. A shell of the person I used to be. You see, rather than bravely pausing long ago to deal with the things that haunted me, I suppressed my struggles, and put on a smiling, brave face.
But those struggles would only stay buried for so long. As my performing career came to a close, it all came crashing down on me and I was left crushed by debilitating anxiety and depression. Death seemed like a welcomed friend, and I often contemplated my suicide.
I want to thank you for being a shining example. For stopping and taking time for yourself. For saying I need help. For showing your peers, your fans and the world that it’s OKAY to ask for help.
You are not just a singer or an actress or a media darling. You are an immensely talented young woman with a huge heart and an incredible platform to inspire others. You are a role model. Thank you for setting an example to this generation that they do not have to live broken or ignore the struggles they carry and face, our society has long needed someone to carry that banner.
Like you, I have found myself again. I am no longer broken. I accept myself for where I am today. Healing didn’t happen overnight and I certainly fought quite a battle to get here. But I’m here because I finally let those I love see what I had buried for so long. And I finally asked for help. I may still struggle at times, but I no longer suffer.
I’ll leave you with these words of Maya Angelou, “Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
I support you. I applaud you. I admire you.
I believe in the power of love.
There is always hope.
I’m still here,