A country icon is boldly opening up about her battle with severe depression YouTube/TODAY

Naomi Judd may just be one of the bravest people in the fight for mental health awareness.

The Grammy-winning country legend stopped by to see Megyn Kelly at the “Today” show and talk about her 2016 book, “River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope,” which includes a detailed account of her harrowing battle with mental illness.

Naomi boldly opened up to Megyn about the experiences where depression took hold and even almost cost her her life.

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“I knew that all during my life there were periods where I would get so sad,” Naomi revealed. She said that being a highly sensitive, empathetic person who often emotionally picks up the weight of other’s burdens hasn’t helped her over the years. But more recently, it became something much more serious and debilitating.

After her last tour, she knew the situation was dire.

“I went into this deep, dark absolutely terrifying hole and I couldn’t get out,” Naomi said. “I spent two years on my couch.”

She’s sought help over the years from some of the country’s top psychiatrists and therapists, some that were successful in treating her and some that were not.

“I have severe, treatment resistant depression and anxiety,” she revealed, adding that she’s tried everything, including a wide range of specialized treatments, in an effort to manage the illness.

“It’s not a character flaw. It’s a stinking disease,” she declared to the audience in the studio and watching at home.

The book also chronicles Naomi’s experiences with early life trauma — sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, abandonment, rape and assault, poverty and welfare — and the role they’ve played in her journey. Another aspect of the disease she explores in the book is genetics.

“I have such bad genetics in my family on both sides … serious pathological genetics,” she said. “Read the book, it’s scary.

“So much of mental illness goes back to your genetics,” she added. “That’s why I’m studying it right now, to see if I can alter the expression of it.”

Naomi has been traveling as a motivational speaker and working with NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, to tell her story, shed light on research and support and empower those affected by mental illness.

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“When I started writing this book, [I worried that] people are going to think I’m making this up,” she shared.

Something tells us they won’t—but what they will think is that Naomi is one strong and remarkable woman.

“River of Time” is now available in paperback.

Samantha Stephens absolutely lives for music. When she's not making it, she's talking or writing about it. She's worked in all arenas of the country music world for nearly a decade, from syndicated radio and television to print journalism. She's even been known to crash a red carpet or two, true story.
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