"The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality."
"People are always saying to me I’m happy all the time," Dolly Parton once said. "But nobody is happy all the time."
The very name of the famous singer reminds one of her dazzling smile, confidence, and infectiously upbeat energy. But Parton has admitted that she, like everyone, has had her low points and even experienced depression.
"Depression runs in my family on both sides and I have to be wary," the country legend told Mirror. "It’s usually brought on by something that’s going on in the family and if there are problems sometimes it’s a lot for one little person to carry."
She added, "Every once in a while I just feel you know... sad-hearted and melancholy. There are times when you just don’t want to get up."
One of the darkest times in Parton's life had sent her into a two-year-long spell of depression that forced her to step back from some of her professional commitments. It began around 1984, after she had a partial hysterectomy and discovered that she may never be able to give birth to children.
"I got overweight and I was going through the change of life, I was having a lot female problems, I’d been going through a whole lot of family things, just the stress, the heartache. There was just several things going on at that time. I was just broken down," she recalled while speaking to Jad Abumrad, in a podcast called Dolly Parton’s America, as quoted by TODAY.
Back then, she also "cried an ocean" after a "special friend" broke her heart. "For about six months there I woke up every morning feeling dead," Parton said in an interview from Ladies' Home Journal, according to Country Living.
The "affair of the heart" led to her have thoughts about suicide and she turned to her faith for a sign.
"I was having some serious conversations with God during that time," she told Abumrad in the podcast, according to TODAY. "I just said things like, 'Look this is ridiculous, I am not happy,' (and) arguing about why when they say you shouldn’t commit suicide because that’s a sin you can’t get forgiven for. Everything was just confusing to me and I was just angry and I was hurt, and I was unhappy and so I just said ‘You’re going to have to get me some answers or I’m getting out of here. And then we’ll both deal with it.'"
Feeling like she hit rock-bottom, she laid eyes on the handgun that was kept in her bedroom and for a while, Parton just looked at it. Just as she picked it up, she heard the footsteps of her dog Popeye running towards her.
"The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality. I suddenly froze. I put the gun down," she said in the Ladies' Home Journal interview, as per Country Living.
Believing Popeye was her spiritual messenger, she said the podcast, "My little dog, Popeye, at the time, he jumped up on the bed about the time I was writing my—you know," as quoted by TODAY.
"God is dog spelled backwards, and I always thought that might have been the very thing," added the actress, author, and humanitarian.
Although the phase was an extremely difficult time in her life, Parton reveals it has made her stronger and she leans on faith when things get rough.
"Sometimes God just has to smack you down. He was almost saying, 'Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff,’" she told Mirror. "After that I was twice the person I ever was. It was good for me."
Seek help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or head over to suicidepreventionlifeline.org if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide.