"The anxiety was to the point where I couldn't function."
Jamie Lynn Spears is speaking out about her past mental health issues and how she overcame them.
In a new interview with PEOPLE to promote her upcoming memoir, “Things I Should Have Said,” the 30-year-old actress detailed how her time as a child star and her father Jamie’s struggles with alcohol impacted her mental health.
According to PEOPLE, in her book, which is out January 18, Jamie Lynn “recounts how child stardom, becoming a teen mom and her daughter Maddie’s near-death accident changed her life.”
As fans know, the singer — along with her older siblings Britney and Bryan — was raised in Louisiana by her parents, Jamie and Lynn Spears, who divorced in 2002. Although Jamie Lynn said she recalls “feeling very loved” when she was young, her life at home was rocky due to her parents’ on-and-off relationship and her father’s alcoholism. The latter of which Jamie Lynn said brought on “anxiety and unpredictability.”
The “Sweet Magnolias” actress said showbiz was an “escape.” Her career began with a role in Britney’s 2002 film, “Crossroads.” She then went on to join Nickelodeon, becoming a cast member on “All That,” before landing the lead role in “Zoey 101.”
“It was a way for me to control a situation — I didn’t have any control as a young child — and I think that it was my saving grace, but also my escape,” she said of performing.
While acting was her “saving grace,” Jamie Lynn said she felt pressure to be a role model, but said the weight “was on another level” because of her famous older sister, whom she saw as “perfect.” Jamie Lynn added, “That pressure felt heavy at times … I was so afraid of letting people down.”
However, things took a turn in 2007 when, at 16, Jamie Lynn found out she was pregnant with her first child with then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge. In June 2008, she gave birth to daughter Maddie.
Jamie Lynn explained that Maddie “healed something in me that I didn’t know I needed healed.” Now that she was a mother, she said she learned that she needed to “grow up” and broke up with Aldrige. In her memoir, per PEOPLE, Jamie Lynn noted that Aldrige was “unfaithful and struggled with substance abuse.”
“I was a teen mom, but I was so programmed to be perfect that I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t also be a single teen mom,'” she recalled. “More importantly, I wanted my daughter to have what I thought I always wanted: my parents to be together. But then I remembered that my parents might have been together, but it was not a healthy situation. Making that choice was the first time I felt confident to say, ‘I have to do this for myself.'”
The country singer said she went on to address her mental health struggles, seeking professional help in 2013. Jamie Lynn shared that she was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. At her lowest point, Jamie Lynn said she experienced panic attacks, revealing she would only get out of bed to take her daughter to and from school. “The anxiety was to the point where I couldn’t function,” she recalled.
Through therapy and by temporarily taking medication, Jamie Lynn said she was able to get her mental health under control. She explained, “I’m very conscious not to lie to myself anymore because I think that my biggest issue my whole life was pretending to be perfect.”
“For the first time in my life,” she told PEOPLE. “I feel OK.”
In 2014, the star tied the knot with businessman Jamie Watson. Four years later, the couple welcomed a daughter, whom they named Ivey.
Watson was there for her as she faced the unthinkable as a mother in 2017 when her daughter Maddie got into a near-fatal ATV accident, which ultimately changed Jamie Lynn’s perspective on life.
“When you have the worst thing you can think of in your life happen to you, it makes you look at everything else differently,” she explained. “You have a lot more gratitude.”
Meanwhile, Jamie Lynn has continued to make headlines as she has a strained relationship with Britney, whose 13-year conservatorship was terminated in November. Earlier this month, the former Nickelodeon star took to her Instagram Story to share “atrocious and unacceptable” threats she received on social media amid Britney’s feud with her and their family.
Jamie Lynn previously declared her support for Britney during the singer’s battle for freedom and told PEOPLE that she “only ever tried to be helpful, so any notion that says the contrary is just completely ridiculous.”
She stressed that she “didn’t have a say” when the conservatorship was put in place in 2008 as she was pregnant — and then gave birth — to Maddie during that year. “My sister was going through a hard time, I was still a child, and that’s what everybody, I think, forgets: I was just a kid going through my own crap,” Jamie Lynn explained. “My intentions have always been pure when it comes to my family.”
Jamie Lynn also shared why she felt the need to create “boundaries” between the Spears family and her own family.
“It was really important for me to separate myself from my family to focus on the family I’ve created, which is me, my husband and my daughters. Setting those boundaries in place was really important,” she explained. “I am not my family. I am my own person. I fought very hard and worked very hard to establish myself and to build the life that I have today.”
She said she’s grateful for her family of four, saying they’ve “brought me more peace and more joy than ever.” Jamie Lynn concluded, “I just feel really thankful at the end of the day, because I have the things that truly matter.”
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