Naomi Judd Was Open About Mental Health Struggles

Late country star battled depression for years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 10:25 AM CDT
Naomi Judd Was Open About Mental Health Struggles
Naomi Judd in 2012.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – "We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," is how daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd put it in announcing the death of their mother, Naomi, at age 76. For those with only a passing acquaintance of the country star, that might have come as a surprise. But as Today reports, Naomi had been open about her struggles with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years. Those struggles began in 2011 and worsened at the end of her 2012 concert tour with Wynonna. "I didn't get off my couch for two years," she told Savannah Guthrie in 2017. "I was so depressed that I couldn't move. I wouldn't even brush my teeth. I wouldn't get out of my PJs. ... You become immobilized."

The same year as that interview, Naomi wrote an essay for NBC News detailing her struggles, in the hopes of encouraging others going through the same thing to get help. "Depression is a disease of the brain, just like heart disease is a disease of the heart and diabetes is a disease of the pancreas," the essay begins. "My brain simply doesn't make any of the happy chemicals it's supposed to, and I have to use medication to give me a chance to have a life." Naomi also wrote about her battle with depression in her memoir River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope.

In her case, Naomi told People in 2016 that repressed memories of childhood trauma and sexual abuse by a great-uncle resurfaced, triggering her spiral. "I'm still trying desperately ... to help myself," she said at the time. "There's never going to be a pill for it all. ... I try so hard to stay up on everything that I possibly can to get rid of this horrible curse." The suicidal thoughts had disappeared, she told the magazine, "but I'm vulnerable. I know I can backslide." Naomi was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the day after her death. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources. (Read more Naomi Judd stories.)

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