Paris Jackson turned 18 last April, and moment by moment, can come across as much older or much younger, having lived a life that’s veered between sheltered and agonizingly exposed.
Paris describes herself as “desensitized” to even the most graphic reminders of human mortality. In June 2013, drowning in depression and a drug addiction, she tried to kill herself at age 15, slashing her wrist and downing 20 Motrin pills. “It was just self-hatred,” she says, “low self-esteem, thinking that I couldn’t do anything right, not thinking I was worthy of living anymore.” She had been self-harming, cutting herself, managing to conceal it from her family. Some of her tattoos now cover the scars, as well as what she says are track marks from drug use. Before that, she had already attempted suicide “multiple times,” she says, with an incongruous laugh. “It was just once that it became public.” The hospital had a “three-strike rule,” she recalls, and, after that last attempt, insisted she attend a residential therapy program.
Home-schooled before her father’s death, Paris had agreed to attend a private school starting in seventh grade. She didn’t fit in – at all – and started hanging out with the only kids who accepted her, “a lot of older people doing a lot of crazy things,” she says. “I was doing a lot of things that 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds shouldn’t do. I tried to grow up too fast, and I wasn’t really that nice of a person.” She also faced cyberbullying, and still struggles with cruel online comments. “The whole freedom-of-speech thing is great,” she says. “But I don’t think that our Founding Fathers predicted social media when they created all of these amendments and stuff.”
There was another trauma that she’s never mentioned in public. When she was 14, a much older “complete stranger” sexually assaulted her, she says. “I don’t wanna give too many details. But it was not a good experience at all, and it was really hard for me, and, at the time, I didn’t tell anybody.”
After her last suicide attempt, she spent sophomore year and half of junior year at a therapeutic school in Utah. “It was great for me,” she says. “I’m a completely different person.” Before, she says with a small smile, “I was crazy. I was actually crazy. I was going through a lot of, like, teen angst. And I was also dealing with my depression and my anxiety without any help.” Her father, she says, also struggled with depression, and she was prescribed the same antidepressants he once took, though she’s no longer on any psych meds.
Now sober and happier than she’s ever been, with menthol cigarettes her main remaining vice, Paris moved out of her grandma Katherine’s house shortly after her 18th birthday, heading to the old Jackson family estate.
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