Monica Lewinsky says that her thoughts of suicide during the Clinton investigation led her to ask independent counsel Ken Starr’s legal team what would happen if she died — and now, years later, she is shocked that no one considered seemed concerned enough to do anything about it.
The 48-year-old discussed the toll that the investigation and the subsequent public shaming took on her mental health in a new episode of David Axelrod’s CNN podcast ‘The Axe Files,’ describing the aftermath of her affair with then-President Bill Clinton as a ‘tumultuous’ time that had her thinking about ending her life.
‘I just couldn’t see a way out. And I thought that maybe [suicide] was the solution,’ she said.
‘I had asked the OIC [Office of Independent Counsel] lawyers, “What happens if I die?” As more of an adult now, I think back, “How was there not a protocol?”
‘Like, that’s point where you’re supposed to bring a psychologist in or, you know, something. How is that not a breaking point in whatever their plan for Prom Night was, which is what they called the operation.’
Looking back: Monica Lewinsky, 48, reflected on her ‘wobbly’ emotional health and mental state when the investigation began in a new podcast
While it seemed no one involved in the investigation was troubled by her question about death, her mother was certainly concerned.
‘It was that night, hours and hour later… it was around one in the morning, I was so distraught, my mom made me shower with the bathroom door open. So it was that concern,’ she recalled.
‘My emotional state, my mental health was wobbly. And I just still loved the President, I didn’t want this to become public,’ she went on.
‘Yes, I understand that it’s hard for people to get that because I blabbed to a handful of people, which ironically for me at the time, I thought I was being discreet. Welcome to 22.’
Terrified about the affair becoming public, Lewinsky said she thought about dying on several occasions.
Previously, she had written in Vanity Fair in 2014 that she had ‘strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigation and one or two periods after’ but never attempted suicide.
‘And throughout the investigation, there were a number of points — I was lucky I got a therapist,’ she said on ‘The Axe Files.’
Private: She so feared the affair becoming public and ‘couldn’t see a way out,’ wondering if suicide ‘was the solution’
During questioning from the Office of Independent Counsel, she asked the lawyers what would happen if she died – but nothing was done to protect her
Real life: An official White House photo taken on November 17, 1995 featuring Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
‘I didn’t have a therapist at the time, so I got a forensic psychiatrist a couple weeks into the investigation, after it had become public.
‘I think a lot of people who have ever had suicidal ideations find themselves in a moment where it’s just — it’s a moment of grace, like, you know, two roads diverged in the woods.
‘And the forensic psychiatrist picked up the phone. And so I was, you know, pretty, pretty lucky.’
She continued: ‘I think also sometimes around mental health, we often hear stories where somebody might talk about a moment of not wanting to be here anymore and they make it through, but you don’t realize that you can have many moments like that in your life, and the only thing that is better about it is each time you make it through, it gets a little easier to try to find the life boat of, I’ve gotten through this before, I can do it again.’
During the Clinton scandal, Lewinsky noted that it was particularly hard because she had so little support, even from people who identified as feminists.
‘I was not supported by the left, I was not supported by the right, and it was a very painful and terrifying place to be. Especially when you put that under the umbrella of legal jeopardy. So it wasn’t just a PR crisis for me,’ she said.
Now she wonders, ‘How was there not a protocol?’ and says that’s when ‘you’re supposed to bring a psychologist in or, you know, something’ (pictured: Ken Starr in 2018)
Scary: Her mother made her shower with the door open that night because she was worried about her being alone (pictured in May 1998)
‘We’ve also seen this, that sort of parallel with Trump, that there are certain people for whom their supporters will just overlook anything. Or maybe it’s the social times in which we’re living, I’m not sure,’ she added.
During the new interview, Lewinsky — who previously described her relationship with Clinton as ‘mutual’ said she bristles at the description that they both ‘pursued’ each other, because ‘he began flirting with me, and I responded.’
‘It was all inappropriate,’ she said, adding that it was ’22 times more inappropriate for him.’
‘I think we can very easily imagine someone charismatic, like President Obama, where a girl smiles broader than she should, or you sense that energy, and he smiles back and thinks, ‘Ah, I still got it.” And moves on. And there were millions of people like me. Everybody. Especially because Bill Clinton was incredibly charismatic,’ she said.
But she agreed that his behavior would be a textbook example of abuse of power.
That being said, over two decades later, Lewinsky insisted that she bares no ill will toward the former president.
‘How I feel now is just very distant. I don’t wish anything negative to happen to him. I’m not bitter,’ she said.
Her turn to talk: In an effort to reclaim her story, she collaborated on ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’
Years later: She now feels ‘very distant’ from Clinton and doesn’t ‘wish anything negative to happen to him. I’m not bitter’ but wishes he’d made different choices’
‘I think he could have made different choices in so many different places. And I’m now thankfully at a place where I think that I have a bit of a career, and a future, and I’m able to support myself, and at this point, it’s really just about, these are the choices he’s made.
‘He’ll come to the end of his life one day, like we all do, and he’ll have to reconcile those choices, reconcile if he wished he had cleaned up those messes.’
Though she acknowledged regretful public comments Clinton made in the Hulu doc-series Hillary, she pointed out that he has still never apologized to her directly.
‘Being an incredibly powerful person even after he left office, it’s a little empty to say he felt awful about how my life had been derailed, as if his actions hadn’t contributed,’ she said.
‘That’s not to take away my own responsibility, my own choices. But there were so many moments, there were so many different ways, publicly or privately, he could have made sure that my life got back on track. And it was partially derailed… because of the way he choice to litigate everything in ’98.’
She said that he was ‘dismissive’ and painted her as ‘someone who just came in and serviced him,’ which allowed for people to ‘desecrate my character.’
‘My narrative was stolen and then I lost it by trying to recede, trying to run away from everything that had happened for many years,’ she said
Lewinsky also reflected on her own actions, implying that her past experiences primed her for the relationship with Clinton.
‘There are people who’ve had sexual boundaries crossed in their lives who just totally shut down, and just don’t go anywhere near relationships, and then there are people who maybe make really poor choices because they’re actually terrified of intimacy, because of whatever those experiences were or they’re looking for some kind of a validation in a different way,’ she said.
‘With a lot of my choices, I was taught better, I knew better, and I made bad choices,’ she added.
Still, she admitted that the way she looked at the affair changed during the #MeToo movement, which is part of the reason why she has been taking pains to tell her story her way — as with the new season of American Crime Story, of which she is an executive producer.
‘My narrative was stolen and then I lost it by trying to recede, trying to run away from everything that had happened for many years,’ she said.
‘This story is about real people and I’m involved in it, but it’s also about something bigger. It reflects something bigger in our society. And so as our society changes, there are different ways that this story feels relevant,’ she said.