Former First Lady Barbara Bush opened up about her mental health struggles and even suicidal thoughts in a new biography.
Bush spoke to journalist Susan Page for a new book titled The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty before her passing last spring. The biography comes out on Tuesday, and PEOPLE has reported it will include the details of Bush's debilitating depression. At one point before her husband became Vice President, Bush said that she found herself feeling suicidal in her day-to-day life, even driving down the street.
“I felt terrible,” she said. “I would pull over and park so I wouldn’t go hit a tree. I mean, I really felt that depressed.”
“I really wasn’t brave enough to do that, but that’s why I pulled over,” she continued. “So I wouldn’t do that, or I wouldn’t run into another car.”
Page conducted five interviews with Bush before she passed away at the age of 92. She wrote that the American people may not have fully understood the depths of Bush's psychology.
“Barbara Bush was the public figure Americans felt they knew most but really understood least,” Page wrote. “Many embraced her as a down-to-earth grandmother who sported a triple strand of faux pearls and joked about her wrinkles. That soft-focus impression wasn’t inaccurate, but it was decidedly incomplete."
“In my view, she stands as the most underestimated First Lady of modern times. And perhaps the most interesting," she went on.
Later on, Bush explained that her depression reared up again in the late 1970s, after she and her husband returned from China and he took a job as the director of the CIA. She confessed that she hid her condition "from nearly everyone except her husband."
“Back in Washington, George Bush plunged into the demands of his new post, but Barbara Bush found herself falling into the worst personal crisis she had faced since daughter Robin had died more than two decades earlier. Overwhelmed by pain and loneliness, she contemplated suicide,” Page wrote. “After the crisis passed, she blamed a toxic combination of factors for the darkness."
In addition to her mental health, the book discussed Bush's lifetime of philanthropic work and advocacy, and her opinions of the state of American politics at the time of the interviews. She was reportedly very frank with Page about her distaste for President Donald Trump.
The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty is available on Tuesday, April 2 wherever books are sold.
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.