We all face dark times in our lives, and how we handle them makes us who we are.
Chief meteorologist for ABC News and Good Morning America, Ginger Zee, has confessed that she attempted to take her own life when she was just 21 years old.
“I’d lost all hope,” Zee said of her mindset. “I just shut down. It wasn’t worth living. I was wasting people’s time and space.”
The now 36-year-old familiar face had to weather many storms before landing her dream career.
“My professional life, in a strange way, has always been going up, up, up, while my personal life was just the complete opposite,” she says.
Shortly after graduating from Valparaiso University in Indiana, Zee admitted that she took every pill she could find in her medicine cabinet. Her then-roomate and ex-boyfriend realized what she had done and got her to the hospital. The mix, that included Benadryl and other pills turned out to be non-lethal, thankfully.
It was this suicide attempt that lead to her diagnosis of depression.
“Depression for me has been a couple of different things — but the first time I felt it, I felt helpless, hopeless and things I had never felt before. I lost myself and my will to live,” Zee said. “It doesn’t matter what’s relative to another person’s tragedy, or whatever it is that’s making you feel low. In that moment, my brain, and probably a chemical somewhere within me, said, ‘You need to kill yourself.’ The only voices I could hear were telling me, ‘You are not worth it.'”
Now that Zee is a mother her perspective has changed and she is no longer shying away from her past.
This isn't the first time that Zee has opened about a major struggle in her life. She has previously been open about her struggle with anorexia.
Following her parents' divorce when she was young, she coped by finding another distraction.
“We were moving, I had to make new friends … and I needed to control something, so I was like, ‘I know what I’ll do — I’ll just not eat,'” Zee explained.
The former Dancing With The Stars competitor admitted she was very young when she was battling anorexia.
“[Ages] 10 to 14 was a bulk of my anorexia. I don’t think I even knew how bad it was at that time,” she said.
It was her step-father that got her back on track.
“My stepfather is a saint. He came into our lives and he taught me about nutrition and self-love and once I started to learn about taking calories in and working calories off, then I got obsessed with working out,” Zee shared. “Everybody goes through those stages. He helped me get out of that moment in my life.”
Before her attempt at suicide, Zee was diagnosed with narcolepsy and later believed that it was the medication that influenced her to attempt to take her own life.
“It amplified everything,” she said. “Ups were amplified and downs were amplified. I’ve had to learn to live on that medication responsibly, because I can’t not have it. You have to be really, really careful with it.”
Zee later got help in a program where she met a therapist who "changed everything."
Zee was on air at the NBC affiliate in Chicago by the age of 25, and joined ABC's Good Morning America in 2011. Unfortuntely in the months leading up to her move to New York, her depression began to rival that post-college low she experienced.
That's when 10-days before starting the job at ABC she checked herself into a mental health facility.
“I was in this place where I knew my personal life could affect this outstanding job and opportunity that I had,” she says. “For the first time in a long time, I wanted to live and I knew that.”
Being a mother has changed Zee's perspective on life.
“I’m now focused on not just myself, but on keeping my family happy and healthy,” she says. “You have bigger things than [your own problems]. That has helped a lot — being a mother has helped incredibly.”
In dark times she thinks of her children.
“I didn’t question it. I didn’t sit there and think about it. I just went for it. It’s scary, the way your mind can overpower what is real and what is right. Now as a mother, to think that that could be my child? That is frightening.”
Zee has her second child on the way with husband Ben Aaron. She shared the exciting news during a weather report, that had us all screaming with laughter and excitement for the mom-to-be.
The couple also share a 1-year-old son, Adrian.
“Adrian already asking to hold his little brother… new baby boy coming February 2018!” she captioned a Twitter snapshot of the little guy holding a sonogram.
Adrian already asking to hold his little brother😉💙💙💙new baby boy coming February 2018! pic.twitter.com/NHLYFjEJcH— Ginger Zee (@Ginger_Zee) August 14, 2017
Writing has been a form of therapy for Zee, releasing her book Natural Diaster: I Cover Them, I Am One.
“I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was,” she says. “There were times where I would stop writing and get extremely emotional — like, I thought I was over this. But edit after edit after edit, I developed a sense of pride and found a bit of closure in some of these parts in my life. I am so lucky that I get to do this. I’m so lucky I get to tell my story.”
She has offered words of wisdom to young people facing tough battles.
“There’s such a great life ahead. You don’t need to torture yourself,” she said. “You can beat this. This shouldn’t overtake you.”