52-year-old singer/actress Janet Jackson graces the cover of Essence magazine’s July/August issue which is devoted to happiness. In addition to talking about the joy that her 1-year-old son Eissa Al Mana brings, Jackson opens up about the secret for her happiness and her struggle with depression.
“When it comes to happiness, I’m no expert,” she writes in the letter. “I have only my life experience as a guide. I’ve known great happiness and great sadness.”
Jackson’s 30s were far from perfect, plagued with mental health issues.
“I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense,” she writes. “Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards.
“And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism,” she continues. “Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way through it.”
The following decade was also challenging for her.
“In my forties: Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value,” she writes.
“Happiness was elusive,” she adds. “A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”
In her fifties, however, Jackson has found a source of joy, her baby boy. Even amid a contentious split from Eissa’s father, Wissam Al Mana.
But on balance, it seems Jackson has found contentment.
“The height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness,” she says in her letter. “When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere.”
The new issue of Essence arrives on newsstands Friday.