'RHOA' 's Porsha Williams Opens Up About Depression and Contemplating Suicide as a Child

"Everything I have been through has made me the woman I am today," Williams tells PEOPLE

Porsha Williams' personal life has played out on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for the last decade, but for the first time ever, the reality star is revealing painful parts of her past that she's kept hidden for years.

In her new memoir The Pursuit of Porsha, available Nov. 30, Williams opens up about her lifelong struggle with depression, contemplating suicide as a child, and surviving multiple abusive relationships.

"It was very therapeutic and hard as hell," Williams, 40, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue of writing the book. "I wanted to talk about those moments of despair, how I came out of them, and what it took to get there. Everything I have been through has made me the woman I am today."

For more from Porsha Williams, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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Lynsey Weatherspoon
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Williams began struggling with depression at an early age. While attending middle school in Georgia, she was bullied about her body, and in her darkest days, she considered suicide. At the time, "I was too young to even understand what I was dealing with," she recalls. "It wasn't until I was about 29 that I really identified with the word 'depression.'"

Raised by her parents Diane and Hosea, entrepreneurs who split when she was 2, Williams — who is mom to 2-year-old daughter Pilar Jhena with ex Dennis McKinley — was sent to a therapist by her mother, but the sessions were short-lived.

"I developed different skills to survive," she says. "Like speaking positively to myself and not focusing in on all of the negative." (Williams adds that while she took a break from attending therapy during the writing of her book, she plans to pick up with regular sessions again.)

Watch the full episode of People Features: Porsha Williams on PeopleTV.com or on the PeopleTV app.

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When it comes to her fiancé Simon Guobadia — who was previously married to fellow Housewives star Falynn Guobadia — Williams says falling in love with the entrepreneur, 57, came naturally.

"He's a big advocate for going to therapy, so he's done a lot of work on himself, and I have been doing a lot of work on myself," she says. "I knew very early on that he was the one for me."

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Williams announced in September that she was leaving the Real Housewives franchise after nine seasons. As she embarks on her next chapter, she feels gratitude for everything she's been though.

"I was just saying to my mom, 'Look where my life is today,'" says Williams. "I feel absolutely blessed. No matter what has happened, I still thank God for all of it."

The Pursuit of Porsha: How I Grew Into My Power and Purpose hits bookshelves on Nov. 30.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go tosuicidepreventionlifeline.org.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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