LeAnn Rimes Wants to Erase the Stigma Over Getting Treatment for Depression
Sundays are a day to recharge and reset by hanging with friends, turning off your phone, bathing for hours on end, or doing whatever else works for you. In this column (in conjunction with our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, from tending to their mental and physical health to connecting with their community to indulging in personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.
Singer and songwriter LeAnn Rimes has been using her voice to make music for the last 25 years. She's released hit after hit ("How Do I Live" and "Can't Find the Moonlight," just to name a few) and has toured on sold-out concerts all over the world. But recently, she's been trying to branch out and utilize her voice in completely new ways: through podcasting on her new show Wholly Human and creating a meditation album, CHANT: The Human and The Holy.
"I’m exploring how I express myself. I was really good at using one piece of my voice and to be completely honest, I was completely terrified to use the other pieces of me," the 38-year-old tells HelloGiggles. "So this year has really been about creating a new way for me to explore different aspects of myself."
These projects aren't just new hobbies she's recently picked up, though—chanting and having a spiritual practice have been a part of Rimes' lifestyle for years. "I’ve been contemplating this idea of creating modernized chants so chanting can become a little more accessible to people, and I feel like I’ve been writing modernized chants, so I took that idea and turned it into a chant record," she explains. "And I’m so excited for it to be out in the world."
Then there's Rimes' new podcast Wholly Human (out November 30th), which will explore the different aspects of her spiritual practice through its host having "really honest conversations between humans." The first season will feature some of the "wonderful, wise souls" who, Rimes says, have "taken my hand and led me along my path." They've helped her on her "healing journey," she says, especially when it came to her depression, anxiety, and psoriasis, which she recently announced through a Glamour profile in October by releasing powerful and vulnerable images of her body.
"I talk about wholeness a lot, especially with the podcast, as I feel like that has been my journey," Rimes says. "Starting in this business so young, I was trying to be so many things to so many people that I felt so incredibly fragmented. And my journey has been about reclaiming those pieces of me, whether that be the light or the dark, and calling them home and reintegrating them back into what feels like one whole me."
While the journey to bettering her mental health has been a long one, Rimes says that finding new ways to use her voice outside of music wouldn't have happened if she didn't put herself first. And one of the ways she did that was by attending a treatment center for her depression and anxiety. "I had to do a lot of self-discovery and face a lot of my shadow to be able to create from this place," the singer says. "Every part of my journey has served a deep purpose."
For this week’s Self-Care Sunday, we spoke to Rimes to learn more about her journey with mental health, her go-to self-care rituals, and her advice on going to a treatment center for the very first time.
HelloGiggles (HG): How has your relationship with your psoriasis impacted your mental health?
LeAnn Rimes (LR): I was diagnosed when I was two, so because I was so young, I think it was twofold: I think I got so used to having it, I didn’t know my body or my life without it. And because of that, I don’t think I realized what kind of mental toll it took until I got much older. I would say there was a lot of shame and hiding. When you start that young in trying to hide your body, I mean, the toll that it takes on your own psyche, especially as a woman! I never felt free and totally me until recently.
Those photos of [my psoriasis] really did set me free in a lot of ways... I do something called somatic experiencing therapy, which is about really getting in touch with the body and with the mind-body connection rather than talk therapy, where it’s all up in the head. It focuses on finding traumas within the body. And I’m just now getting to the core of a lot of the things that have been locked up in my body. One of my core pieces is that because I had psoriasis my whole life and because I had to hide my body, I had this deep feeling of feeling unsafe, so it’s still something I’m working with.
HG: What are some practices or regimens you'd suggest others do if they feel like their mental health battles are becoming overwhelming?
LR: I think the most important thing we have to do is recognize that we are human beings with the capacity to feel such deep emotions, whether it’s on both sides of the spectrum. We have this stigma around that there are good emotions and bad emotions and we’ve categorized them into two very dualistic places. So what I have learned is that I’m a human being with the capacity to feel all of this and nothing is good or bad, it just is. What I’ve learned is how to be with those uncomfortable and challenging feelings more freely—and that’s taken a lot of understanding.
Sometimes my anxiety takes over and gets the best of me. But what I have learned to do is allow it in. When we fight these feelings, the longer they stay around and the louder they can become. One of the things I’ve learned to tell myself is, “Oh, I’m feeling anxiety.” I do this, honestly, on a daily basis right now. It’s like, “Ok, here it is, I’m feeling it. Where do I feel it in my body?” and I just be with it. And I just tell myself to allow it in and don’t fight it.
Also, when we have anxiety, it’s important to orientate ourselves to the space that we’re in so our minds can begin to soften and hyperfocus less on the experience that we’re having. So it’s just about getting into your senses, like what are you smelling in the room? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? And when we begin to do that, our body really begins to relax naturally.
When it comes to depression, what I’ve found to be the most healing is creativity. When I think of depression, I think it’s a lack of expression. So I think one of the best questions to ask is, “What am I not allowing out?” and with that piece, can we get creative with it, can we write about it, can we paint about it, can we dance about it? Whatever feels good to you to just take those emotions and turn them into art. That really has been the most healing thing for me.
HG: What physical activities have you been doing lately that help you manage your anxiety and depression?
LR: Going out and walking. Sunshine. I love putting my feet on the grass. I also have a little trampoline that I’m obsessed with because it makes me so happy. I remember jumping on a trampoline when I was a kid. So I start my workouts with doing about 20 minutes on the trampoline and it’s so good for your lymphatic system and it just brings me a lot of joy.
HG: How do you suggest others physically connect with their bodies to feel more in tune with themselves?
LR: One of the things that I love doing is using my hands. Our hands are so healing. We don’t use our own hands for our own physical touch very often. We have all these gifts in our body that can be very healing and the last thing we think to do is turn them on ourselves.
One of the things I noticed that I was doing was that I had to put medicine on my body for so many years that all I wanted to do was to get it over with, and I began to notice how quickly I would try to go through that like I don’t want to be with my body. And one of the things that I decided to do was really slow down and give my own body love and attention with my own hands. And that is incredibly uncomfortable, but it’s also really healing, as a lot of things can come up during those moments—I realized I was rushing through because there was a lot of trauma there for me. So I would suggest just touching your body. And sometimes, it’s just about taking your hand and placing it on your sternum, right underneath your throat and right above your heart. And just pressing in and breathing.
For me, I usually say with this action that “I’m okay” or “It’s okay” or “I’m here.” And, for me, that always brings me into the moment and my body. I know for me because I have psoriasis, but also for so many people, it’s very uncomfortable to be in our bodies. Just simple and easy practices like that, and to just be slow and gentle. Don’t rush things and allow yourself to come into connection with your body in your own time.
Something that is really challenging for me is dance and movement. I literally have such a resistance to it. And after all this time, it has taken me eight years to just put on music and move. Sometimes practice and coming into ourselves takes time. It’s all in divine timing, so just be gentle with yourself.
HG: What do you wish people understood about the choice to go to a treatment center?
LR: It was about three of my dearest friends and my husband who sat me down at dinner and were like, “We really think, if you’re open to it, it would be really great to try and get some help because we’re worried about your depression.” I don’t think I was ever severely suicidal, but I was definitely at a very low point in my life. I think it was one of those things where I saw how my pain was affecting those around me, and I made that decision myself. You can’t force anyone into treatment. And that was a very scary decision, but I knew that I was doing it for me and also for my loved ones because I saw how much it was affecting them.
When people think of treatment, they think, “You’re on drugs” or, “You have an alcohol problem” or, “You have an eating disorder”—whatever it may be, it’s like, “Oh, those are the people that go into treatment.” But it’s actually available for anyone who has hit a point in their life where they need help. It doesn’t have to look a certain way. I think that I knew that my life could go one or two ways in that moment. And luckily, I had enough fight in me to want to choose help. I just think there is a lot of stigma around the idea that when people go into treatment that there must be another reason. It can’t be anxiety and depression; it can’t be that overwhelming. And it was. I want people to hopefully allow that stigma to fall. There are many ways for what treatment looks like and what getting treatment looks like.
HG: Are there any products that you’ve been using lately to help with your mental health?
LR: I love a good meditation app. I love Insight Timer, and I love Calm. Sometimes I just feel like I need a guided meditation and I don’t want to sit in silence. Also, I create candles and that’s how the chant album came about.
There’s something about scent to me that’s like music and it really serves my soul. I learned how to make candles a couple of years ago and I started to sell them this year on my blog. And we’re doing the holiday candle right now. The holiday candles are chanted over and infused with a certain frequency. And that’s how the chant record started, because I started to write the chant infused in the candle. Light, scents, and candles are some of my favorite things that bring me comfort.
HG: What is your advice for people considering treatment centers for depression and anxiety? What should they know before they go?
LR: The biggest thing that you should know is that the best thing you can ever do for yourself is say, “I need help.” I think that was the best decision I ever made in my life. For me, I always thought I could do it on my own. And more and more I’m learning that sometimes it takes a village and that’s okay. We’re not meant to go through this life alone. And even though it can be incredibly fearful up until you say those words, once those words fall out, it opens up the gate for help to come in. No one should ever feel ashamed for asking for help. There’s true true power in knowing, “Hey, I need help.” I really encourage anyone out there who does need it, is that the fear in asking for it is the lie and it will keep you stuck. So yeah, courage, courage my friend.