The singer opened up about her diagnosis with clinical depression and her family’s battle with addiction in a recent interview with People magazine.
“Because there is a history of mental health issues in my family, I didn’t feel any shame seeking help,” JoJo, 29, said. “Those of us who have a predisposition toward depression or a chemical imbalance — sometimes we just need a little help.”
JoJo — born Joanna Levesque — found success in her early teenage years and has maintained a successful career in music ever since.
While she said she “was living [her] dream,” there was a dark side to her life, which included her own mental health struggles as well as her father’s opioid addiction.
Then, of course, troubles with her record label prevented JoJo from creating new music, leading her to turn to alcohol, drinking heavily at just 18.
“I was feeling overwhelmed and found myself wanting to get out of my mind because I was so scared and so sad,” she said.
“At the end of the day I am a product of a family with substance-abuse issues,” JoJo continued. “When I woke up and didn’t know how I got home, I was like, ‘This is not okay.’”
JoJo managed to get a handle on her mental health through therapy and medication, but also exercise, yoga and journaling.
“I looked at what I could control as opposed to what was out of my control,” the artist recalled. “What was out of my control was I never knew what I was going to get from my father, if he was going to OD again; if my record label was going to let me out of my deal, or if I was ever going to legally be able to own my own voice again.”
In 2013, JoJo reached a settlement with her label, but just two years later, her father died due to complications from his addiction.
JoJo knew from a young age, however, that she would avoid an addiction like her father’s.
“When I was younger, my dad came to pick me up from my mom’s place. He was slurring his words, and I was scared to get in the car with him,” she said. “He was like, ‘Just you wait. Addiction is like Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron in your backyard just waiting for you.’ I remember telling him, ‘I don’t accept that as my fate. I don’t accept that just because this is in my DNA that this has to be my future.’ I’ll never forget that.”
JoJo doesn’t avoid drinking, but she said her “relationship with alcohol is different now,” adding: “I don’t drink to escape.”
These days, the singer has a lot to look forward to, beginning with a new album, “Good to Know” on Friday, but she’s excited for the future as well.
“I’m really excited for 30, because I hear it gets better,” JoJo said. “My 20s were just about seeking approval. Now if I approve of myself, that’s all I need. That confidence really reverberates. It’s very powerful.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).