Mya Was Depressed Early On In Her Career Due To Family, Mental Health Struggles: “I Did A Lot Of Crying”
In an interview with Refinery29, Mya revealed that early in her career, as she reached fame in the late ’90s, she went through a lot emotionally. The 39-year-old singer shared that she struggled to mentally stay afloat at times because her family was dealing with a lot while simultaneously trying to help her become the star she is. Her parents went through a contentious divorce while they were managing her career together, and her mother fell ill soon after. Though she seemed like she had it all together in front of the cameras, she said she struggled to figure out how to cope.
“I would definitely tell my younger self not to be in a rush, on anyone else’s timeline and make sure that along the way that you take care of you first so that you can reach your destination,” she said while looking back on early experiences in the business.
“When I first started, it was a very rough and rocky time. The definition of success for me was to have my family involved in everything that I did. But that got stripped away from me due to a very ugly divorce between my parents, who are also simultaneously my managers,” she continued. “At the time that my parents were getting a divorce, my mom was simultaneously diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t know who to turn to and actually to discuss it with because there was nobody. I didn’t want to talk about it with the business representatives. It was very embarrassing at the time. I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of writing. I did a lot of crying. I wasn’t the person as a teenager I was supposed to be because I was processing everything. I would just shut down. Not knowing if that next phone call would be my mother on her way out or if my dad committed suicide. I was terrified of bringing it up to my record company because I felt that would be too risky. As in they would tell me to take some mental break and see a psychologist or something like that. So I just held it in, and then it turned into art eventually. It’s probably not the healthiest way, but at least I had the pen and paper.”
Such issues eventually caused her to take a short leave from the industry in 2005, a couple of years after the success of her single “My Love Is Like…Wo.” She opened a studio, started a foundation for kids from broken homes in her native Washington D.C., and even did some teaching to get some peace of mind.
“I had to leave the music industry behind for a minute to figure out what made me feel home again,” she said. “2005, I moved back home from all of it.”
“I knew what the bigger picture should be and I had a vision of what that was and I just wanted peace,” she said. “Honestly, I just wanted to keep the peace and everyone to be happy. Trying to please so many people can definitely cause a lot of stress. So when your body is telling you, ‘This doesn’t feel right, something is missing. Something’s missing,’ take the time to try to identify what the problem is and what the void is so you’re not filling it with unhealthy things. Whether that be unhealthy people, unhealthy thoughts to yourself.”
Mya said it was especially important for her to prioritize her mental health because so many women in her family, in particular, her mom, dealt with “a lot of sadness.”
“How can I get around being that woman? I have to break this cycle,” she said she asked herself. It involved practicing self-care in big and small ways. That includes shutting off her phone and finding time to not do business. It also meant opting against resigning with a major label to start her own independent record label, Planet 9, and to uplift herself so she could truly enjoy making music and making it for the right reasons.
“The grind is harder, the grind is longer, willing to be on the road 11 months of the year with no man, no relationship, celibate, vegan, no dating, don’t see my girlfriends, don’t even see my family or my animals because I want to do one thing,” she said. “I want to make sure that I’m really happy with what I’m doing and do it for the reason I got into it in the first place. Make people feel the way that I felt when I was first moved by music.”