In an explosive new biography, Barbara Bush recalled a period in her life where she fell into such a deep depression that she even contemplated taking her own life.
Author Susan Page, who’s behind the biography The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, which is out next Tuesday, explained how a combination of negative factors in the former first lady’s life during the mid-’70s sent her into a spiral of depression and suicidal thoughts. When George Bush was assigned to head the CIA in 1975, Barbara reportedly “fell into darkness,” and among the causes of her despair was Jennifer Fitzgerald, one of her husband’s aides who allegedly ended up having an affair with him for over a decade.
“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 in the book, adding that Bush would sometimes have to pull over to the side of the road to stop her from succumbing to her impulse to plow into a tree or purposefully crash into an oncoming car.
Before her death, Barbara told the author that she “wasn’t brave enough” to do it, which is why she pulled over so she “wouldn’t run into another car.”
According to The Daily Mail, the Bush matriarch would cry herself to sleep every night as she tried to explain how she felt to her husband.
“I almost wonder why he didn’t leave me,” she confessed.
While she was able to hide her depression from most friends and family members, it was George who encouraged her to seek professional help. In the many conversations she had with Page before passing away in April 2018, she theorized that her depressive state was “a toxic combination of factors,” saying that the onset of menopause and a hormonal imbalance could have set her off, but also that the fact her children were all away at boarding school or starting their careers, leaving her with an empty nest at home.
Furthermore, many close to the family suspected that her suicidal depression was also triggered by her husband’s alleged 12-year affair with Fitzgerald, who was seven years younger than Barbara. She was small and blonde, and “not a striking beauty,” per the book, but George was “simply captivated by her.” Their romance reportedly began in 1973 and went on to last for over a decade.
“Their surreptitious romance would last for more than a dozen years, inexplicable to those around him and impossible for anyone to manage,” Page wrote.