On April 30th, 2022, country music icon Naomi Judd passed away at the age of 76. Fans are still reeling from the loss of Judd, who tragically died by suicide.
Judd has been open about her battle with depression, revealing in her memoir, River of Time, that she began suffering from the aftermath of trauma at the age of three, when she was abused by her granduncle.
After falling ill with chickenpox at the age of three, Judd was placed in isolation with her grandmother to protect the rest of her family. It was then that her grandmother’s brother, who Judd called Uncle Charlie, came into her room and assaulted her. The memories of the incident, she writes in River of Time, stayed with her for life, contributing to her battle with depression, anxiety, and panic.
As a teenager, Judd became a mother while still grappling to come to terms with her trauma. After she and her husband Michael Ciminella separated, she was left as a single mother, which worsened her panic attacks.
Detailing the intensity of the attacks, Judd wrote in River of Time that some were powerful enough to wake her from a deep sleep.
“I reach up to my throat, expecting to find a pair of hands belonging to an intruder who is out to kill me with a grip that is slowly closing down on my windpipe,” the memoir reads. “I am hyperventilating. … [I’m] in danger, but I don’t know the reason why.”
When she first caught her big break with The Judds, reaching number 20 on the country music charts, Judd felt a weight lift.
“Suddenly, we had a future. For the first time in my life, I felt alive,” she said. But tragically, the pain was always hiding in the shadows.
In 2016, Judd spoke with Robin Roberts about her struggle with depression in an interview with Good Morning America.
“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 said of her fans. “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.”
Also to Roberts, Judd described suffering “completely debilitating and life-threatening” depression, which led to a number of psychiatric ward visits. Despite being treated with medication and electro-convulsive therapy, her condition did not disappear. She called her illness “treatment-resistant.”
In River of Time, Judd explained that she’s sharing her battle to not only “help the people that have depression,” but help the people around them “understand this is a disease.”
If you are in crisis: Call 911; Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); Text “Got5” to 741-741.