Tamar Braxton on Life After Surviving a Suicide Attempt: 'Dedicated to Being the Best Mom I Can Be'

Tamar Braxton opens up about how she’s prioritizing her son and her health in one of this week’s cover stories

Tamar Braxton is determined to surround herself with positivity, one year after surviving a suicide attempt.

The former reality star and host of the podcast Under Construction with Tamar is opening up about the July 16, 2020 incident and how she's moving forward from it.

At the time, Braxton, 44, was home with her son Logan (then 7, whom she shares with her ex-husband, music executive Vincent Herbert) and her then-boyfriend, financial consultant David Adefeso, who found her unresponsive, and she was rushed to the hospital.

"That time of my life was so dark and so heavy," she tells PEOPLE in one of this week's cover stories. "I didn't see how I was going to come out on the other side. I didn't even know that there was another side. But I chose to change my life."

"Most people think, 'Oh, she went to a hotel, probably took a bunch of drugs, was on a binge.' It didn't happen like that. It was just everyday life, trying to figure out how to get through the day and then ..." Braxton continues, stopping short of reliving exactly what happened.

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tamar braxton
Nolwen Cifuentes

Braxton was also in the midst of filming her popular WE tv docuseries Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life! at the time, and says constantly being in front of the camera had been taking a toll on her mental health.

The youngest sister and former backup singer of superstar Toni Braxton, 54, Braxton herself found fame when she helped launch her family's hit WE tv reality series Braxton Family Values in 2011, which initially followed the five sisters and their mother.

Through the years, she continued to film Values and the spinoff Tamar & Vince with her ex-husband, whom she divorced in 2019, and signed on as a co-host of talk show The Real in 2013.

Despite the confidence she exuded onscreen, she says she now realizes she'd never fully dealt with having been repeatedly molested as a child, an experience she says was brought up in a 2018 taping without her consent.

"How it came out was very traumatic for me," she says. (A WE tv spokesperson declined to comment on Braxton's most recent statements but noted that her past revelations about childhood sexual abuse never aired and were not discussed on Braxton Family Values.)

tamar braxton
Nolwen Cifuentes

"I thought I had successfully buried that part of me, but it was manifesting in different ways," continues Braxton, who was often shown to be on edge and irritable on her shows. "It was coming out in how I dealt with things emotionally, how I looked at situations, how I conducted myself."

Braxton shares that she started to feel boxed into an increasingly negative onscreen persona. Things came to a head during the filming of Get Ya Life!, which she says sensationalized her life as a single mom and her admittedly rocky relationship with Adefeso.

"After a scene, I'd watch it back, and it would be nothing like how it went down," she says. "They started piecing words together and sentences. I just thought that wasn't necessary."

"I wanted to do positive television," says Braxton, who felt even her family's show had taken a tonal turn. In recent years Braxton has been at odds with her sisters and mother, both onscreen and off.

When Braxton Family Values launched, "it was about a positive Black family," she says. "That's just not what it was anymore." She says she voiced her concerns to producers, but "I felt ignored. That's when things really started to go downhill for me."

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Tamar Braxton on PeopleTV.com or on the PeopleTV app.

What precipitated her darkest moment, she says, was the thought of her son.

"I didn't want to continue being a disappointment for him. How can his friends' parents respect me if this is what they see every day? I wouldn't let my kid go over to a child's house if this is what was portrayed on television. In my sickness, I thought that if I can take the embarrassment out of his life, maybe he would have a chance to have the best life."

She has gained clarity since: "I know now that that probably would have destroyed him, that the best life that I can set for him is to be the example, get counseling and show him how to communicate," she says.

One year later, Braxton is committed to motherhood and being the best version of herself.

"I still love television," she says, "but I'm definitely not ever doing another docuseries about my life."

"I'm dedicated to being the best mom, the best person I can be," Braxton adds. "I am moving forward."

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Tamar Braxton with son Logan. Mediapunch/Shutterstock

Wardell Malloy, Braxton's longtime friend, sees her doing the work: "Tamar is human, with real emotion and real pain," he tells PEOPLE. "She's in the process of healing and being the best Tamar Braxton she can be for herself and her son."

Listen to more of PEOPLE's cover story interview with Tamar Braxton below on our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Phil Thornton, the SVP and general manager of her record label, RCA Inspiration, similarly notes that Braxton "is in a healthy place."

"Tamar has been through a lot the last few years, but I'm grateful she is still with us. I'm super proud of how she continues to share her journey publicly and shine light on the importance of mental health," he says. "She is with her counselor weekly and doing the work to maintain her overall health and wellness. Motherhood continues to be a top priority for Tamar — Logan is her best friend."

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Braxton has vowed to stick with her program — seeing a life coach and a psychiatrist three days a week each, focusing on making new music and recording Under Construction, talking to other stars in hopes of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

"I have a responsibility," she says. "I chose to live my life out loud; I have to do the work because people are watching me."

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 to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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