Jazz Jennings spoke candidly about her ‘roller coaster’ journey with depression and emphasized that it ‘does get better’, while promoting the first ever Mental Health Action Day.
Jazz Jennings, 20, wants anyone suffering in a “dark depressing place” to know that it “gets better.” The transgender star of I Am Jazz is lending her voice to promote the first ever Mental Health Action Day, happening May 20, and she told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that she wants to be a light for anyone struggling.
“I know how crippling it can be to be in that dark depressing place,” she shared, “and I just want to be a leader and voice for so many others out there to let them know that it does get better. That there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, there is always hope. As long as you maintain faith in that hope, things can get better.”
Mental Health Action Day, which was convened by the MTV Entertainment Group, is aimed at shifting us from awareness to action on mental health, so we asked Jazz what simple step she takes to help her get out of that “dark” place.
“For me the best technique above all else is just to keep breathing,” she explained. “Whenever my mind is cluttered, and I feel lost and confused and anxious, I just take a couple of deep breaths and then kind of ground myself and center myself. And I find that to be the easiest way to just bring myself to the present moment.”
Jazz was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age five, making her one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as transgender. She’s been in the spotlight since 2007, when she was just six-years-old and appeared on ABC’s 20/20. She then went on to star in the reality show I Am Jazz, which aired for five years.
In 2018 she underwent gender confirmation surgery, a final step in her transition. As life changing as the surgery was, Jazz still had to work on her mental well being. “My mental health journey has had its ups and downs,” she said.
“You know I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the past few years,” she revealed. “I’ve definitely experienced some crazy things and I have really been in dark, dark places. But I’m proud to say that I’ve crawled out of those dark places and I’m doing so much better today.”
And, when it comes to those “dark” times Jazz emphasized that they do not last forever. “There’s always a silver lining, no matter how hard it seems,” she said. “Pain doesn’t last forever. It only lasts as long as you choose to focus on it. If you can change your mindset and focus on something else and train your mind to do that then, you know, you could surpass pain and realize that it’s just an illusion and that at our core, we’re all loving, beautiful beings of light.”
“I’m happy with the person that I am today,” she continued. “I feel like I’ve evolved and grown as a person to be a better person, a more thoughtful, considerate and mindful person. I just feel like I’m doing so much better and I’ve been able to kind of break free from a lot of my mental health behaviors.”
For Jazz, connecting with breathe and cultivating a gratitude practice have been key in fostering long term mental health resilience. But everyone is different, and Mental Health Action Day encourages people to do what feels right for them.
Other positive steps towards good mental health could include finding a therapist, reaching out to a friend, starting a meditation practice or joining a peer support group.
If you have concerns about your or someone else’s mental health, please contact a medical professional or call 1-800-273-TALK(8255) for a free, confidential conversation.