Jill Zarin: ‘I take an antidepressant and it’s really changed my life’

Jill Zarin was an original cast member on The Real Housewives of New York. She was on the show for 4 seasons. According to People, she was a victim of the cast shakeup that happened going into season five. I don’t watch the Housewives shows so I can’t always speak to their personalities beyond their interviews. I don’t know if Jill deserved to be cut because she was a wretched person or if it was just an executive decision. But what I do know is that she’s done some work since then and she sounds better off for it. And, according to Jill, we will be seeing the new version of her on her return to reality TV, The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Ex-Wives Club. Jill said what’s made the difference in her life has been a diagnosis for anxiety and partial depression and anti-depressants. She said that since she started taking medication, it changed her whole life.

Jill Zarin is returning to reality TV this month, the Real Housewives of New York City alumna joining seven other former Housewives in Peacock’s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Ex-Wives Club.

But while she promises fans will see “the old Jill back they remember from season 1,” the entrepreneur and mother of one tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue that there’s one major difference to her approach to life in front of the cameras these days.

“I’m medicated now,” Zarin, 58, says. “I suffer from anxiety and partial depression. I didn’t realize it before, but I wound up going to doctor and was prescribed medicine for it.”

She went on to explain how her anxiety and depression previously affected her time on reality TV.

“It would cause this circular thinking that I couldn’t break out of it,” recalls Zarin. “When I was on RHONY, I would constantly talk about the show. If something was bothering me — say I was getting hate from the fans and I was upset about it — I would talk to Luann [de Lesseps], I would talk to Ramona [Singer], I would talk to my mother, my friend, my agent, my late husband, my daughter; it was 24 hours a day. Others could let these things roll off their backs, but I had this ailment that prevented me from doing that. I was hypersensitive to everything going on around me and quite paranoid that there were things going on I didn’t see. It wasn’t healthy for me.”

“Now, I take an antidepressant and it’s really changed my life,” she adds. “Things don’t bother me as much as they did. I’m a lot calmer. It’s just one of the changes I’ve made in my life I think fans will be surprised to see.”

(Her late husband Bobby Zarin) also inspired Jill to get the help she needed. “I got clinically depressed around the time Bobby got very, very sick,” Jill says. “I was taking care of him and I was scared that he was going to die. I would just cry out of nowhere, even on days where he was doing okay. It was a nervous system issue and that’s what prompted me to see a doctor to really address it.”

[From People]

Jill’s husband Bobby Zarin died from thyroid cancer in 2018. But he’d battled it for a while and Jill said that being fired from the show turned out to be a blessing because she was able to spend all that time with Bobby before he died. That and she was able to focus on the anxiety she couldn’t control over his illness and everything else made it clear she needed help. Just going by this interview, Jill seems to hold no ill will against being let go by the show.

As for how she appears on screen, it should be interesting to see how people respond to Jill now. She’s correct that both anxiety and depression can affect how people process conflict and stress. And if Jill was in a pressure cooker situation where executives fostered drama for ratings, I imagine she didn’t handle it well. I’m happy Jill was able to find help that worked for her. She sounds centered now. I’d say returning to the Housewives franchise is not the best place for one’s mental health. But if Jill commits to making her storyline about her mental health journey and she’s upfront about what it took to get there and maintain, that would be something. She doesn’t have to, this is her work to do and distribute, but she put this out there and I’m intrigued to see where she’s going with it.

Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon Red

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12 Responses to “Jill Zarin: ‘I take an antidepressant and it’s really changed my life’”

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  1. Mc says:

    Zoloft is truly a life changer for me. I know meds aren’t for everyone but they’ve helped me so much and helped so many of my friends.

    • CROWHOOD says:

      Same goes for me with lexapro. My anxiety manifested in societally acceptable ways – hyper productivity, cleanliness etc. so it took so long to realize how bad it had gotten. 10mg of lexapro a day has changed my entire life.

      • The Other Sarah says:

        100% same. I resisted medication for a long time and wish I’d started sooner. My anxiety manifested as extreme negative self-talk, which I converted into mega people-pleasing and working really hard, but I was tearing myself down internally all the time. I feel like meds have turned the volume way down on those thoughts and, frankly, increased my capacity to feel happiness.

    • Dierski says:

      Same for me, Mc. Ain’t no shame in the helpful medication game! 😉

    • Megs283 says:

      Sertraline helps stop my anxious thoughts. I had gotten to the point that I didn’t enjoy anything and was constantly googling “do I have postpartum anxiety?” I am so thankful that my child’s pediatrician recommended that I speak to my doctor. I even had anxiety about going on medication. Please, if anyone has anxious thoughts that make you wonder, please speak with your doctor. ❤️

  2. Josephine says:

    It’s great to normalize medication for mental health conditions (although her language is odd). But I’m personally ready to see all of these reality people disappear. I’ve never seen any of the housewife shows but the ads leave the impression that they are just another group of insecure, petty women willing to humiliate themselves and make women look bad for a paycheck. Rea,lity shows set women back and need to disappear.

    • MsIam says:

      Agreed. I admit I started watching for the fashions and the glimpses inside the fancy houses. But then it became all about the manufactured drama and the stereotypes about how women are gossips who can’t ever get along. Time to move on.

  3. Hootenannie says:

    It’s always great for people with a platform to normalize talking about mental health and taking medication.

    I believe she’s doing the work but I think she should use the correct language if possible. Maybe she means mild depression? I don’t think she meant to dismiss it by saying “partial” and is likely mistaken, but people with mild depression often do not initially seek help for fear they won’t be taken seriously/their problems aren’t “bad enough.” I just want everyone to be equipped properly for this discussion.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Maybe it’s a way to distinguish her depression from, I don’t know, ‘clinical depression’? For me, my therapist called it ‘situational depression’, so not as serious technically speaking but certainly serious enough to make me miserable. That on top of lifelong anxiety was really doing a number on me. Therapy & Lexapro helped me. A year later, after stopping Lexapro & changing pretty much everything else in my life, I’ve got a new set of stressors making me miserable–but not quite as bad as before–and I’m just now starting Zoloft. Staying on top of things has really helped & made a huge difference in my life.

  4. Bookie says:

    I’ve taken Prozac on three separate occasions in my life; each time for a year or two. I don’t think I could have survived these difficult times without having mustered the strength to go to a psychiatrist and say I needed help. Thirty years ago it was shameful and embarrassing to ask for pharmaceutical help with depression and anxiety. It took me nearly a year of crushing depression to ask for help the first time around. What a wasted year because I was embarrassed to seek out a doctor.

    I’m thrilled about the recent de-stigmatization and conversations around mental health.

  5. AngelaH says:

    I’m glad she got help and I’m glad she’s talking about it as just a normal medical treatment. I’ve been on Effexor for almost 20 years now (with a short time off of it because I had to go on blood thinners for 6 months) and I refer to it as a life saving medication. I will not be able to live without it. Depression kills and it was killing me. Medication keeps me alive. Therapy is helping me learn to thrive. Depression messed up the thought processes in my brain and now I’m learning how to handle thoughts and feelings in a healthier way. I love hearing that people asked for help and got it. It’s a beautiful thing.

  6. waffle game says:

    It’s fantastic to see medicines for mental health disorders becoming more common (although her language is odd). But I’m ready for all of these reality show characters to go. I’ve never seen any of the housewife programs, but the advertisements give the idea that they’re just another set of insecure, petty women prepared to disgrace themselves and make other women seem bad for a wage. Reality shows are detrimental to women and should be eliminated.