Singer and former member of the famous girl group Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams recently opened up about her struggle with depression and how she finds her joy in God.
For Williams, her journey to find joy started with vulnerability.
“‘I need help. The three most powerful words a person can say. I should know. It took me a long time, but I finally said them. It most likely saved my life,” Williams wrote. “I guess it started when I was about 13. Today I understand I was having symptoms. Back then they were just feelings that left me unsettled: a passing sense that nothing mattered or would ever really matter, anxiety that made me climb out of bed in the middle of the night and pace the floor for no reason, a kind of spiritual numbness, feelings of not being loved even though I was.”
However, even as Williams singing and acting career sped up, she refused to address her struggle with depression.
“I soon learned that these were signs of depression. In a way, I thought I simply had to live with them. Even years later, when I was performing in Destiny’s Child, those feelings would rear up. I’d be like, ‘Oh, depression. You still here? I gotta go do a show. We’ll talk later.’ I tried to ignore what was happening. Or maybe I was just trying to accept it,” Williams said.
“Three years ago, I plunged into such a dark hole that I couldn’t get out,” she continued. “I could barely get off my sofa. Things came to a head when I didn’t show up for a promised event with my pastor and his wife. Didn’t call or text. Just didn’t show up.
“‘This isn’t like you, Michelle,’ they said. It was then that I finally allowed myself to say those three powerful words. I need help.”
Despite her outward appearance, Williams knew that depression threatened to control her life.
“Depression is a disease like any other. It doesn’t care who you are or what your external life looks like. It gets inside you. I had a good career. My music grew out of my Christian faith. Things seemed to be going well for me, at least from the outside. But inside I was a mess. The act of checking into that treatment center was the first step of taking back the power,” Williams said. “Accept the help. It’s not enough to ask for help. You have to be willing to accept it.”
Williams her depression loosened when she was honest with God and with those who care about her wellbeing.
“By owning your depression, you allow yourself to be helped. By the people around you and by God. Especially by God—because you can’t fool him,” Williams said, adding that comparison to other people is detrimental to finding joy. “Ask yourself who you are measuring yourself to. My faith tells me to compare myself to the life Jesus led and try to live up to that. And know that he loves me despite my stumbles, even more so because of them.”
“The comparisons we make through social media can be especially harmful. It’s no wonder that so many kids, attached to their phones 24/7, are finding themselves struggling with anxiety and depression,” she added.
Williams also encouraged people who are battling depression to turn to God.
“Cast your cares… The disciple and fisherman Peter uses the word cast when he talks about our cares and anxieties. ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,’ he says in 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV). Other translations say, ‘Cast all your cares’ or ‘Cast all your worries,’” Williams explained. “The point is, we need to do it with God’s help. Doing it takes practice. And it can be frustrating because we are human and don’t always get it right. I sure don’t. But that’s okay. I’ve learned the most powerful antidote to depression is sharing it with the Lord, however imperfectly. Nothing will get you more depressed than trying to be perfect.”
She continued: “My whole life, I had a little list of what I thought a perfect daughter was, a perfect employee, a perfect Christian. If I crossed off everything, then I was okay. If I didn’t check all those boxes, then I was a bad person. Instead of casting my cares on God, I collected them. I ended up serving those lists, not God.”
Williams said that now she relies on God for answers, comfort and peace instead of herself.
“Today instead of checking in with my own lists, I check in with God’s,” she said. “Instead of asking myself, ‘Who is mad at me? What have I done career-wise? Why am I not married?’ I start by looking at God’s list and what he has done for me. I’ll even write it down. A blessings list. A door to joy. I mean, what’s more joyous than God’s love for us? Is there anything to be more grateful for?”
She concluded: “You may not struggle with the level of depression I have, but almost everyone gets depressed from time to time. It’s part of being human. Don’t be afraid to reach out, to ask for help, even if it’s just from a friend. I need help are the most powerful words. They are the key to opening the door to joy.”
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