The Reason Willow Smith Says She ‘Lost Her Sanity’ At 9 Years Old

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith don’t have a perfect marriage — who does? It’s not easy seeing rumors about your private life make their way through the news cycle. That’s probably one reason their daughter, Willow, kept quiet about the darkest period of her life. She revealed a secret she’d kept for years — but her mom was there to listen.

Read Willow Smith’s story about her personal experiences with mental health — and learn why it surprised her mother so much (page 6).

On the outside, Smith had a flawless life

Willow Smith at a fashion show in Paris. | Edward Berthelot/Getty Images for Christian Dior

You’d think the daughter of Will Smith wouldn’t have much to complain about. But mental health issues don’t discriminate. On her mom’s talk show, Smith admitted, “I honestly felt like I was experiencing so much emotional pain, but my physical circumstances weren’t reflecting that.”

Next: Deep down, she knew something was wrong.

She felt like she was entering a ‘black hole’

She fell into a depression at a very young age. | Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association

Willow Smith could tell something wasn’t quite right before things went downhill. She told Jada Pinkett Smith, “It was like a kind of lull, I was just listening to a lot of dark music … It was just so crazy and I was just like plunged into this black hole.”

Next: That’s when things got worse.

Her self-injury started around the same time

Her depression took a dangerous turn. | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association

She also told her mom and Red Table Talk host that around the time she was feeling low, she started engaging in self-harm. Though she didn’t specify how long this went on, she did reassure Jada it was a short-lived nightmare.

Next: She reflected on the experience and called it “weird.”

Thankfully, it didn’t last

Luckily, she’s a lot better now.  Sarah Morris/Getty Images

Smith said there was a reason she’d never discussed any of this publicly before. It was a hard time, but she got through it. She said she “lost my sanity for a moment there. I never talk about it because it was such a short, weird point in my life.”

Next: This might be the reason she went through a rough time.

It all started when she released ‘Whip My Hair’

Willow Smith in 2011. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

One key event seemed to trigger something dangerous in such a young life. Smith said her emotional pain and self-harm began after the 2010 release of her single, “Whip My Hair,” which she likely recorded before she’d even turned 10. That’s a lot of pressure to endure when you’ve barely been alive for a decade.

Next: Smith kept it a secret from one of the most important people in her life.

She never told her mom about it

Jada Pinkett Smith had no idea. | Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM

At such a young age, Willow Smith might not have gotten the help she needed — but that wasn’t her parents’ fault. Jada Pinkett Smith said she didn’t know about her daughter’s self-harm; Willow had never mentioned it.

Next: In many ways, Smith’s experience was unique.

Smith was lucky to pull herself ‘out of it’

A mental health expert can guide you through recovery. | Monkeybusinessimages/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

To finish off the discussion, she said “you have to pull yourself out of it” when looking back on the experience. Unfortunately, many children and teens don’t get the help they need, and their issues with self-harm persist. If you or someone you know is considering self-injury, text “HOME” to 741741.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!