Michael Jackson’s 22-year-old daughter Paris Jackson is opening up about her lifelong struggle with depression and how she manages her symptoms today. In an emotional episode of new Facebook Watch show Unfiltered: Paris Jackson & Gabriel Glenn, Paris explains the lows of her depression throughout adolescence, including self-harm and multiple suicide attempts. Her story is so important, not least because of the valuable insight it lends into the thought process of a teen struggling with depression. Paris’ clear-eyed view of how and why she was driven to the measures she took is a powerful reminder that mental health needs to be talked about at every age.
When Paris was 11 years old, her father Michael Jackson passed away and she moved in with grandmother Katherine. It’s during this period that Paris says she began to search for a release for her feelings of anger and pain, first seeking solace in food.
“I gained a lot of weight and food became an addiction,” she says. “I was like, ‘OK, I can’t do that anymore.’ And that’s how I fell into self-harm.”
Paris gives a clear explanation of what purpose the self-harm served for her, noting the physical reaction of a dopamine release as well as a psychological sense of control, at a time when her emotions felt out of control and frightening.
“I was always the one that was in control…I knew how deep I was going,” she said of the self-harm. “Part of it was the dopamine release. And dopamine is called dope for a reason…there’s a lot of things that cause a dopamine release and self-harm is one of them, tattoos are one of them. Part of it was that and then it was also a distraction from emotional pain and transferring to physical pain and the need for control.”
Paris eventually went to a CPS-mandated boarding school, and says that some of her issues were solved there, but others cropped up. She tried anti-depressants, but hasn’t yet found a medication that works for her beyond creating a sense of numbness:
“For me, my depression comes in waves, so even though the lows are unbearably low, I would still rather that than nothing,” she says. “I used to be on anti-depressants and mood stabilizers and it just kind of clouded my third eye.”
What Paris focuses on now is happiness, pure and simple — or at least contentment. “I want to influence self-acceptance and courage and being comfortable in your own skin,” she says. “I’m just working on content. I’m trying to just be content. Baby steps.”
Clearly, Paris has taken more than baby steps from the days she describes — and the clarity she has about her mental and emotional needs proves it.
For more information on the warning signs and prevention of suicide, click here. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org, or text “START” to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.
Click here to see 37 celebrities who have opened up about struggling with depression.