Just a year before she died after suffering a brain aneurysm, American Idol alum Nikki McKibbin opened up about her past struggles and home life. Following the heartbreaking news from her husband, Craig Sadler, on Saturday that McKibbin had passed away, her 2019 interview with PEOPLE resurfaced.
In the interview, which was originally published after the outlet spoke to McKibbin at an August 2019 charity event, the American Idol alum spoke candidly about the "ups and downs in my career, but also in life in general." The singer, who finished in third place during the first season of American Idol, admitted that life hadn't necessarily been easy following her time on the singing competition, explaining that while people "assumed that I was some millionaire," she was "still struggling financially." McKibbin revealed that she dealt with "brutal" comments from the public, including people "saying that I should kill myself."
McKibbin also opened up about her struggles with substance abuse, telling PEOPLE that she "did deal with addiction and that was hard." After having "back surgery a few times because of herniated discs," McKibbin said that she also became "addicted to the painkillers." The singer, who appeared on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008 as well as the spinoff series Sober House, said because of those appearances, "people always assume that I'm on something even when I'm not," though she assured the outlet that she was in a good place, explaining, "I've battled substance abuse and I'm winning, but it's still a struggle every day. For a long time, I wasn't taking care of myself. I wasn't being the person I should be. I'm in a better place now."
"I've got a good life now. My husband is an amazing man. Tristen is all grown up but he's the best son a mom could want," she said in part. "Just because life is hard doesn't mean that there aren't blessings along the way. So I continue to perform and write music. I continue to sing, and I will always do that. Am I going to become a household name? No, but I can make money doing it and it brings me happiness. And that's what's important. I'm doing well. I'm a survivor and I've come this far. That's a good thing."
The 2019 interview resurfaced over the weekend after Sadler revealed in a Facebook post Saturday night that McKibbin had been hospitalized. In the post, Sadler revealed that his wife "suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday." He said that she was "kept on life support" for the next few days because she was an organ donor. At the time, he wrote, "there are only a few hours left for me to hold her hand and kiss her forehead."