A Look Back at Mandisa's Ups and Downs Following the Grammy-Winning “American Idol” Alum's Death at 47

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The late singer was open about her experience with "a deep pit of depression" that left her feeling "so hopeless" she contemplated suicide

Life was full of highs and lows for Mandisa before the Grammy-winning American Idol alum's death at age 47 on April 18.

"We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased," a rep for the reality singing competition series' beloved season 5 contestant told PEOPLE. "At this time we do not know the cause of death or any further details. We ask for your prayers for her family and close knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time."

Mandisa quickly became a fan-favorite during her time on Idol, and she even made it to the show's top 9 alongside Katharine McPheeKellie PicklerChris DaughtryParis BennettElliott Yamin and eventual winner Taylor Hicks.

<p>John Shearer/WireImage</p> Mandisa in Los Angeles in January 2010

John Shearer/WireImage

Mandisa in Los Angeles in January 2010

Related: Mandisa, American Idol Star and Grammy-Winning Singer, Dead at 47: 'We Ask for Your Prayers' 

<p>Paras Griffin/Getty Images </p> Mandisa in Atlanta in August 2019

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Mandisa in Atlanta in August 2019

Related: American Idol's Paula Abdul and Taylor Hicks Lead Tributes Mandisa After Her Death: 'A Powerhouse Person' (Exclusive)

Following her stint on the show, the soulful vocalist released her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007 and earned a No. 1 debut on the Top Christian Albums Charts, making her the first new female artist to do so in the chart's 27-year history.

Born and raised in Citrus Heights, California, she released six total albums throughout her career, four of which earned Grammy nominations. Her 2013 album, Overcomer, won the award for best contemporary Christian music album the year after its release, making Mandisa the fifth artist to receive a Grammy after emerging from Idol.

Overcomer was inspired by her best friend and backup singer Kisha Mitchell’s battle with breast cancer. Later in 2014 after Mandisa won the Grammy, Mitchell died.

Related: 'American Idol'' s Mandisa Was Suicidal, Gained 200 Lbs. After Friend's Death: 'I'm Still Here' After Feeling 'So Hopeless'

"When she passed away, it shook the foundations underneath me," Mandisa told PEOPLE in 2017. "I sank into a deep pit of depression. I turned back to my old ways, which is food."

Having previously lost over 120 lbs., she gained the wait back, plus 75 lbs. more and became a recluse. "You’re battling shame, and you don’t want to leave the house," she said at the time.

"I didn’t leave the house, for the most part. When I got up, I went downstairs, sat in the recliner, and I watched television nonstop," continued Mandisa. "The only time I left was when I got tired of pizza delivery and decided to get McDonald’s."

<p>Terry Wyatt/Getty </p> Mandisa in Nashville in May 2018

Terry Wyatt/Getty

Mandisa in Nashville in May 2018

During that period, she felt "so miserable" and "so hopeless" that she began to consider suicide. "I am a woman of faith, and I believe that heaven is real, and when I do leave here, I’m going to be in heaven with Jesus," she said. "One of the things I started hearing during that dark period was: ‘You’re in so much pain. If you take your life, you could be in heaven right now with Jesus.'”

In 2016, Mandisa exited the house for a rare outing to see the film War Room, which featured her song "Press On." Upon exiting the movie theater, she realized "a bunch of my friends" had staged a kind intervention for her.

"When I left the movie theater, I saw my car: It had a bunch of sticky notes all over it. The notes said things like ‘We love you’ and ‘We miss you’ and ‘Come back to us,'" she recalled the following year. "They insisted that I get counseling, and that is what helped me finally start dealing with my grief. If that hadn’t happened, I probably wouldn’t be here today."

Related: 'American Idol' 's Mandisa Recalls Having Friends Stage an Intervention After Her 'Deep Dark' Period

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty Images</p> Mandisa in Nashville in October 2018

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Mandisa in Nashville in October 2018

At that point, "the darkness felt a little less dark," she wrote in her 2022 memoir Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God's Joy, chronicling the experience. "I could see a small flicker. Light was beginning to break through."

Elsewhere in the book, Mandisa praised her meaningful connections with friends. "During my life I've been drawn into friendships with all types of people — some very different from me," she wrote.

"My tribe has included men, women, single people, married people with kids, millennials, more 'seasoned' folks, and every age in between. ... You learn so much and become a richer person by surrounding yourself with people who are different from you," added the performer. "As I've walked through hard things in my life, I've sometimes been surprised by the people God has used to comfort and help me. At times I get to be there for them too. That's what it's all about."

Through treatment, she began to cope with her internalized emotions, which she told PEOPLE in 2017 "is the healthiest thing I can do, not stuff it down with a box of Krispy Kremes."

Additionally, Mandisa started working "bit by bit" to get into better physical shape. "I'm making one healthy choice after another, instead of saying, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe I have to lose 200 lbs. again.' No, I'm losing 1 lb. at a time," she said at the time.

Managing her relationship with food wasn't easy. "That's the interesting thing about a food addiction! You can go without crack cocaine, but you have to literally face food every day," added Mandisa. "I'm just not of the mindset to say, 'I can never have these things for the rest of my life.' I just say: What choices can I make today that will help me to get where I want to go?"

<p>Jason Merritt/FilmMagic</p> Mandisa and Ryan Seacrest on American Idol

Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

Mandisa and Ryan Seacrest on American Idol

Mandisa returned to music in 2017 with an album called Out of the Dark, through which she channeled her pain. "My prayer for this is it would give people hope — people who cannot see their way out of the darkness will, through my story, maybe see themselves in it," she said of the project, "and maybe I can be that little flicker of light for them."

Eventually, she found herself in a place of reflection. "When you are walking through this, you think that you’re the only one," she said of her experience with depression. "But you are never the only person walking through something like that."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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