In an emotional interview aired Tuesday on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts spoke with country superstar and matriarch Naomi Judd about her new memoir, her frequently fraught relationship with daughters Ashley and Wynonna, and her ongoing battle with mental illness.
At a certain point of my childhood, my favorite song was The Judds’ 1990 hit “Love Can Build a Bridge.” It begins as a simple, acoustic-heavy little ballad, and eventually transforms into a rousing declaration of the undying love—complete with a gospel choir. Judd’s appearance in the video, which ends with her and Wynonna spreading their message of love from the edge of a cliff with a bunch of strangers, is how I’ve always pictured her. Hopelessly optimistic and convinced there’s nothing a good song can’t heal—with hair teased to Mars.
But a lot has changed in 26 years. Music hasn’t healed all her wounds, and the strength of her relationship with Wynonna ebbs and flows. “[Fans] see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am,” Judd tells Roberts as the interview begins. “But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.”
Judd then reveals she was diagnosed with “severe depression,” and that her battle with the illness has been “extreme.”
“[My case] is treatment resistant, because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal,” she says. Earlier, she says her medications are responsible for swelling her face and giving her tremors. “I really haven’t been eating ice cream and candy,” she says with a laugh. “I really haven’t.” But she eventually tells Roberts—a fellow inspirational public figure and memoirist—that making it out alive on the other end of her initial battle with the illness is what keeps her going. (That’s what Roberts’s mother always called “making your mess your message.”)
“If I live through this, I want someone to be able to see that they can survive this,” Judd says near the end of the segment. “Because there are 40 million of us out there.”