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Every morning, I tune into Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee to do more than plan my OOTD. With family all over the country, I count on Zee to keep me informed about hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and storms that impact the people I care about most.
But what sets Zee apart is her ability to explain Earth’s atmospheric wonders, while honoring the inevitable human experience that follows with dignity and heart.
As a viewer, it’s easy for any of us to feel like we know Zee. After all, we invite her into our homes, but what we likely don’t know is how far she’s come. We don’t know how hard she worked to become chief meteorologist for ABC News. We don’t know how she’s fought for her mental health. We don’t know that she has a hard time saying no and letting go of perfection. Essentially, what we don’t know, is just how much Zee is just like us … that is, until now.
Zee gets to the dignity and heart of her own story in her new memoir, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One., where she takes readers directly into the eye of her personal storms and the hard-fought rainbow that followed.
While it’s true that in every life a little rain must fall, Zee has weathered her fair share. From a young age, she battled an eating disorder. She was diagnosed with narcolepsy in college. She encountered her “first real bout with depression” soon after, and even attempted to take her own life.
But of all the wild and wonderful adventures Zee’s life has taken her on — from paragliding in Mexico to hiking through Hang Son Doong in Vietnam (while pregnant, no less!) — perhaps the bravest involved her checking into a mental inpatient facility 10 days before starting her dream job at ABC News.
The meteorologist and soon-to-be mother of two spoke with Babble about her decision to share such intimate details about her mental health journey in her book.
“People should know that this is a watered-down version of everything that happened. It’s too dark and too sad, but I don’t think you needed to go there to get the point across. There were definitely points right before it was actually going to print where I thought, Is this a mistake? Let me check one more time … and double check,” she admits.
Read her book and you’ll understand why. Zee bravely goes there, but with the support of her loved ones, she knew she had the power to make a positive difference.
“My husband said, ‘If you weren’t scared, or if you weren’t a little nervous, then you probably are not doing anything that would change anyone’s life.’ And that is such a good rule to live by. I think that you have to feel uncomfortable to make a difference …”
Zee’s quick to point out that admitting her pain was the first step. “Being honest with myself was the one thing I couldn’t do and that’s why depression was taking me down,” she shares. “When I started being honest with myself: I have a problem. I need to go to the hospital. I need help. That’s when things started getting better.”
And thanks to Zee’s honesty, things are getting better for others, too. “The amount of people who have written me and [said], ‘You made me feel for the first time, me being the disaster that I am is OK.’ I can’t believe it really did mean that much. That was my intent going into it, but I can’t believe it worked!”
Owning and accepting herself as a “natural disaster” is what makes Zee such an inspiration to us all, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
“I think I’ll always be pushing for that next thing because like a lot of people in this business, and in a lot of businesses, you can’t measure success. You just always want to grab at the next thing and I’ve found that even more so than a career success, it’s just a part of who I am — finding the next way to express myself,” she shares. “I’d love to someday produce children’s programming that has to do with science. I grew up watching Mr. Wizard and then the next generation had Bill Nye. I think that there needs to be a female in that science world and I would love to be that, so there’s always something else that I aspire to do. And whatever I’m doing now only feels like the beginning again, in a good way.”
And new beginnings are kinda Zee’s jam. When she’s not grooving to Disney’s “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas and “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast (which she danced to on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars), she’s taking the inspiring messages of possibility and promise of these songs to heart in her life and in her home where she and husband Ben Aaron are expecting their second son.
Already the mother of Adrian, 2, Zee is both excited and anxious to tackle all the adventure that comes along with life with two boys. “I can jump off of any plane or any building, and I’ll do anything, but two boys sounds pretty intimidating to me!” she says with a laugh.
We have no doubt this inspiring mother’s rainbow will continue to shine bright as a symbol of hope and inspiration for us all!