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Inside Dolly Parton's Life-Threatening Battle With Depression

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Nov. 28 2016, Published 10:16 a.m. ET

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Behind her bubbly smile, country music legend Dolly Parton has been battling mental illness for years —and once plunged into a despair so dark she was seconds away from blowing her brains out!

In a bombshell world exclusive, RadarOnline.com can reveal the 9 to 5 star has long fought against debilitating depression that she confesses left her "sad-hearted and melancholy. There are times when you just don't want to get up."

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The 70-year-old songbird blames her dark funks on being too "tender-hearted," but also believes some of her mental issues are inherited.

"Depression runs in my family on both sides and I have to be wary," she said. " If there are problems sometimes it's a lot for one little person to carry."

Parton says her darkest moment came in 1984 when she learned she had to undergo a partial hysterectomy that would dash her hopes of ever having children. She grew obese and had trouble completing even simple tasks.

During that dark time, the distraught beauty put a loaded gun to her head and was about to pull the trigger when she heard the tap-tap-tap of her beloved dog Popeye scampering up the stairs to see her. She's convinced Popeye was sent by God to save her.

"I don't think I would have done it," she said. "And yet I can't say for sure … It was a really bad time and it took two years just trying to get my physical weight and hormones in order."

She praises her Rhinestone leading man Sylvester Stallone with helping to pull her out of the darkness.

"Suddenly, I was a middle-aged woman; it hit me all at once," Parton recalled. "Sylvester had a great energy that was really healing."

But prayer has been her salvation.

"I have a great faith," she noted. "If it gets to a point where I think I can't quite handle it, I take it straight to God."

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