Just one year ago, Jaclyn Stapp was living in a nightmare.
In November and December of 2014, her husband, Creed frontman Scott Stapp, suffered a psychotic break that was exacerbated by his drug and alcohol abuse. He released a disturbing video claiming that he was broke and “under some kind of pretty vicious attack.”
As Scott’s struggles became front-page news, Jaclyn was going through her own personal torment as she tried to figure out her next steps to protect the couple’s three children.
Scott was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He entered treatment for his addictions. A year later, he is sober – but the family is still rebuilding and healing.
To help them move forward, the couple signed up for Couples Therapy, where they had intense conversations about their relationship.
Jaclyn, 34, tells PEOPLE about the past year: what she’s learned, how she coped, and where she goes from here.
So Couples Therapy is over now. What was the experience like?
I was definitely out of my element. It was very difficult doing therapy and talking about these intense issues with cameras around us 24/7. But even though it was hard, it was also life-changing.
I have no regrets about doing the show. It was a positive experience. We made some friends, and Dr. Jenn went head-on with a lot of issues that we had never talked about in 10 years in marriage. It’s hard to talk about mental health, addiction, bipolar disorder, but we talked about some very serious issues as husband and wife.
Part of this process is getting over the stigma of mental illness.
Exactly. I’ve gotten a lot of letters from people who thought they were alone, but you’re not alone if you’re going through mental illness. It’s not something to be ashamed of. We don’t talk about it a lot because of the stigma. But it’s okay to have these conversations that something is wrong. No one should feel alone.
Did you feel alone when Scott was having his psychotic break?
Yes. I didn’t have too many people I was talking with because it was so public and out-there. But I wanted to be alone with my family.
But you know, there were a lot of times where it felt very healing to just be alone and cry and get out that emotion. As it started to become overwhelming, I turned to my faith. I prayed a lot. I went to church. And I went to therapy and talked to someone to help me navigate through it.
How did you balance being supportive to your husband, but making sure you didn’t enable his destructive behavior?
My role is important to not enable him in any way, or it could put him back into his old behaviors and cycles. I really try to be conscious of not enabling him or treating him like a patient. We balance our duties; he’s good at his things and I’m good at my things. I have healthy boundaries. Obviously, I have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. He’s fully aware of where I stand on that. And I want to build him up. He’s come so far.
How do you feel about things now?
I leave the past in the past. I don’t carry resentment or bitterness. I accept the cards that we were dealt, and this is out situation. We still have a lot to be grateful for. I feel like we’re moving forward together.
You and Scott went public in the spring about his bipolar disorder, as well as the drug and alcohol abuse. What has the public reaction been?
I got tons of emails and letters of people telling me that they went through a manic episode or their child was in a psychiatric ward. It floored me to see how many people know someone who has gone through this.
A lot of celebrities are coming forward with their stories, now.
Yes, they are! I’m really happy to see people like Pete Wentz and my husband and Glenn Close coming forward and talking about their stories and the stories of their families. The stigma is going away, but there’s a long way to go.
You spend a lot of time doing charitable work. Does that help you keep things in perspective?
Oh, absolutely. My organization is called CHARM (Children Are Magical). We just did our first Thanksgiving food drive, and now we’re working on a toy drive. The whole family participated. You see that there are other families who have bigger problems than you, which gives you a sense of perspective. It’s so important; it keeps us grounded. And it’s great to help others together. It can’t always be about us.
So Couples Therapy is behind you, but there’s still work to be done on your marriage. What’s next?
We’re going to keep working on things. That’s what marriage is. We are going to love and support each other. Scott and I have come so far already, and we’re getting better each day. I believe that someday, we’ll look back on this time and say, “Wow. Look how far we’ve come!”