Scott Stapp: How My Wife Saved Me

The Creed singer credits wife Jaclyn for pulling him out of the downward spiral of mental illness and drug abuse

Photo: Jim Wright

For months, Scott Stapp was on a downward spiral.

The Creed frontman had fled treatment to embark on a cross-country road trip. As he drove from Miami to California, his behavior was erratic and frightening – a result of substance abuse and previously undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

“I was walking around like a crazy man,” he says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “I started growing a beard like Jesus. At one point, I pulled my truck over and started running down the side of the highway, thinking that someone was trying to kill me.”

While Stapp was going through his breakdown, his wife, Jaclyn, was facing her own torment.

On Thanksgiving, she got a text from a friend that Stapp, 41, had released a video in which he rambled about being under attack. “I had to be strong for the kids,” says Jaclyn, a children’s book author who is also the founder of CHARM (Children Are Magical). “But I was a wreck. I was completely devastated. My heart was broken.”

For a while, Jaclyn, 34, was unable to convince her husband to seek treatment. But after the holidays, she began to text photos of the children – sons Jagger, 16 (Stapp’s son from his first marriage; Jaclyn adopted him in 2008), and Daniel, 4, and daughter Milan, 8 – to Stapp. “It was all I could do at that point,” she says. “I wanted him to know that we still loved him and wanted him to get better.”

The pictures caught Stapp’s attention. “I had a moment of clarity and realized if I don’t go to treatment, I’m going to lose my wife and my kids,” he says. “I started to ask myself, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ ”

Stapp began treatment with the help of the Grammy Association’s MusiCares program at a dual diagnostic facility.

Five months later, he still has a lot of work to do. Says Stapp: “It’s a lifetime road.”

For Jaclyn, she wants to be supportive without being an enabler. “My expectation for him is to put his recovery and mental health first,” she says. “Because if he takes care of his mind, body, spirit, he will be the best husband and father. So my expectations are for him to continue the program he has in place.”

As painful as the past six months have been, Jaclyn tells PEOPLE that she’s still in love with her husband. “He’s not perfect,” she says, “and I’m not perfect. But we’re perfect for each other.”

For much more about Stapp’s condition and life now, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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