Jinger Duggar on the Mental Health Toll of Being in the Public Eye: There Are 'Deep, Dark Times'
“We have times where we’re walking through very challenging, deep, dark times,” Jinger (Duggar) Vuolo says during an interview on the new podcast Dinner Party with Jeremy Fall
Jinger (Duggar) Vuolo is opening up about what it was like to grow up in the public eye.
Jinger, 27, was around 10 years old when her family began filming for a Discovery Health Channel documentary that then paved the way for their ultra-popular TLC series, 19 Kids and Counting, which aired from 2008 through 2015.
Later, she and several of her sisters starred on Counting On, which was canceled earlier this week amid the child pornography charges facing her older brother Josh Duggar. (He has pleaded not guilty and awaits a November trial.)
In PEOPLE's exclusive first look at her interview on the podcast Dinner Party with Jeremy Fall, produced by host Jeremy Fall's JFALL, the reality star discusses how her fame has affected her mental health over the years, noting that being on a reality show sometimes led people to think her life was always "perfect."
"I think a lot of people do look into fame, and they think it's all beautiful, it's all wonderful, and yes, as I'm saying, there are tons of perks, but then, you also have to wrestle through a lot," she says on the episode, posted Thursday.
She continues, "They can think, 'Oh, you don't wrestle with anything, you don't struggle with being depressed one day,' you know? Or, like, your day hasn't gone as you want, and how do you get through that? I think it's been more challenging for me personally to figure out how to move past that, and how to truly open up to people."
Elsewhere in the podcast episode, Jinger says that when things do get difficult for her and husband Jeremy Vuolo, they turn to their faith.
"We do all feel these things, we have times where we're walking through very challenging deep, dark times and other people may not know about it or they may not understand that that's something that's common to all of us as humans," she says.
"We all walk through difficulties and challenges and that is definitely something I think about for us," she adds. "We are people of faith and we have faith in God and so I think for me in those times when I wrestle the most, I just run to God."
Jinger says that the tabloid headlines and opinions of her family online can be particularly difficult for her to handle.
"I'm like, 'Okay, I cannot put up with what the tabloids are saying today, I can't put up with other people's opinions of even family relationships, what they say about my family,'" she says. "That's painful to hear and so in those times I just have to go back to, 'Okay, wait I'm not defined by what everyone's saying today, I'm not defined by these things, my identity is only found in Jesus Christ and because of who I am in Christ now, it doesn't matter.' I don't have to worry about other people's opinions of me and I think that's something that I wrestle with and I think my family wrestles with."
Jinger, who shares 7-month-old Evangeline Jo and Felicity, turning 3 in July, with husband Jeremy, also says that the paparazzi takes a toll on her mindset, especially now that she has children and is living in Los Angeles rather than her native Arkansas.
"That's something that is very difficult when you hear false things said about you or you have the paparazzi chasing you," she says, recalling an incident when a member of the paparazzi was trying to take photos of her family and said: "You put your kids on TV, come on, it's my right!"
"In that moment I was thinking, 'Wow,'" she says. "It just feels so strange."
RELATED VIDEO: Jinger Duggar Recalls the Moment Brother Josh's Past Molestation Scandal Was Made Public in 2015
The stress of it all has led her to sometimes think she'd rather not be a public figure at all, Jinger says, noting that because she was so young when 19 Kids and Counting began, she never really had a say in the matter.
"I've told Jer a couple times, 'I just don't want to be in the public eye! I just don't want to be there, I just don't want to be here, I don't want my kids to have people looking in on their lives and picking it apart,'" she shares.
"If I post a photo on Instagram, it's like, immediately you'll have people who will say, 'Oh, what a cute family photo!' And then you'll have those who will say really mean things, even about your kids. And it's like, 'She's 2! Don't say anything about her, she can't even defend herself,'" Jinger continues.
"There are days where I just wish [I] could say, 'Oh, no one knows who I am, ever again,'" she says. "But that's never gonna be true for me because people already know who I am. People can always look me up."
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