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Inside Naomi Judd’s Battle With Depression & Struggle To Find Treatment As Ashley Judd Breaks Down Over Her Death

Photo: Joe Seer / Everett Collection / Shutterstock
Ashley Judd, Naomi Judd

Legendary country singer Naomi Judd, died by suicide on Saturday, had spoken publicly about her battle with depression for years before her passing.

In a tribute to her late mother, Ashley Judd wrote that she "lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," highlighting her mother's lengthy struggle.

Naomi Judd was transparent about battling mental illness before her death.

In a 2016 interview with 'Good Morning America' co-anchor Robin Roberts, Judd spoke about her battle with what she called, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.

“When people meet me, they think, because they see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am,” Judd shared.

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“I'm sort of a fantasy 'cause I want to provide that for them, but then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks and not get out of my pajamas, not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.”

Judd also told Roberts that her battle with depression had begun in 2011, during The Judd's encore tour, a mother-daughter duo consisting of Judd and her daughter Wynonna Judd.

She shared her battle with a "completely debilitating and life-threatening” depression that led to several stints in psychiatric wards, where she was treated with a heavy regimen of medication and electro-convulsive therapy.

“Nobody was there for me. In a way, I had to parent myself,” Judd said. “I realized that I got a raw deal, OK, now I'm a big girl. Put on your big girl pants and deal with it, and I started in therapy."

Naomi Judd had also written about her mental health journey in her 2016 book, "River of Time."

"I want someone to be able to see that they can survive," she said. "It's not just to help the people that have depression. It's so the people around them can understand this is a disease," she wrote.

Along with sharing her own struggles, Judd was an advocate for mental health, and wrote an open letter for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2018, according to People.

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"To understand this issue better, we have to bring the study of suicide into mainstream neuroscience and treat the condition like every other brain disorder," wrote the musician.

Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd announced their mother's death in a statement posted on Ashley's Instagram.

"Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public," the statement read. "We are in unknown territory."

Ashley and Wynonna also attended their mother's induction ceremony into Nashville's Hall of Fame on Sunday, tearfully accepting the honor on her behalf.

"I'm gonna make this fast because my heart's broken — and I feel so blessed," Wynonna Judd told the audience. "I mean, it's a very strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed."

"My mama loved you so much, and she appreciated your love for her. And I'm sorry that she couldn't hang on until today," Ashley Judd added through tears.

"Your esteem for her and your regard for her really penetrated her heart and it was your affection for her that did keep her going in these last years."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.