December 05, 2017

ABC's Ginger Zee candidly, courageously opened up about her suicide attempt.

  By Robbie Couch

Warning: Suicide is discussed in this article.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Hearst.

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, knows most viewers only see her through her done-up, smiley, scripted appearances on "Good Morning America." Her new book aims to change that.

“This is the anti-Instagram book,” the on-air personality told People magazine, noting it won't present her life story in a polished, picture-perfect way. "I’m so worried, because there’s still a part of me thinking, 'Oh gosh, this is a lot to tell people.'"

In her book, "Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One," the 36-year-old opens up about her battles with mental illness going back several years.

Zee was 21 years old, fresh out of college and living with a former boyfriend, when she attempted suicide.

Fortunately, the amount and combination of drugs she swallowed wasn't lethal. After being admitted to the hospital, however, she was diagnosed with depression.

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Women's Health Magazine.

“I’d lost all hope,” Zee told People. “I just shut down. [Life] wasn’t worth living. I was wasting people’s time and space.”

In retrospect, Zee attributes her suicide attempt at least in part to being newly diagnosed with narcolepsy and ill-prepared to handle a medication's powerful effects; her senses had been heightened — emotional highs were very high, and emotional lows were very low.

Regardless, her mental health desperately needed addressing. As depression is one of the most common type of mental illness, Zee understood she wasn't alone. In 2015, about 16.1 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

As the Mayo Clinic pointed out, there are various medical reasons why people experience depression, from a person's genetic traits, to brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances. External factors — like stress and trauma — can also contribute, research has found.

"It’s scary, the way your mind can overpower what is real and what is right," Zee said. "Now as a mother, to think that that could be my child? That is frightening.”

Zee (right) and her husband, Ben Aaron. Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for Women's Health.

Zee's life with depression has been an ongoing journey. In 2011, ten days before starting her new, lucrative gig at ABC News, Zee checked herself into a medical facility in New York City, sensing her mental health was spiraling. She didn't want her career and personal life to suffer.

“I realize, too, that just because I’ve been in a good place for six years and I’ve gotten myself to a much healthier mental state... I don’t think that I’m cured,” Zee told People. “I don’t think anybody’s forever cured."

Now, she's decided to share her story so that others know the best thing they can do is express and address what they're feeling internally: "Being aware of [depression], sharing it, talking about it, this is where I hope that the healing happens.”

Need help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).