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Kandi Burruss: ‘I Was Falling Into Depression and Had to Snap Out of It’ After the deaths of her uncle and fiance, Kandi Burruss is undergoing her own healing process by keeping busy with her upcoming album and the opening of her ATL boutique. ESSENCE.com caught up with the Georgia Peach to talk about how she’s been coping with her losses, the opening of her store and the release of her new album.

ESSENCE.COM: We are so happy to hear from you and extremely sorry about your uncle and fiance’s untimely passing. How have you been coping? KANDI BURRUSS: To be honest with you I’ve just stayed busy. I didn’t want to go anywhere and just wanted to stay in bed all day. I was falling into a depression and then I had to snap out of it. I didn’t want to fall into that place. As long as I stay busy and talking about other things I can manage. It makes me upset sometimes, especially when I would go out and I knew people were just trying to comfort me, but they were pitying me and that made me cry. I just tried to be around people who kept my spirits up so it didn’t have to be a pity party, and work, and think about other things. But, yeah, that first week it was really hard because that’s all they wanted to talk about, so I stayed to myself a lot.

ESSENCE.COM: That’s understandable. This has been a rough year with A.J.’s nephew’s car accident, your uncle’s passing and, of course, your fiance, yet you persevere. Any regrets? KANDI: Yes, A.J. didn’t necessarily care for the show itself and all the negative talk. He really was upset about that. If I had to do anything differently it would be that. I hate the way he felt about being on the show. Personally, I feel everything on my end was fine. I just tried to stay true to self and I feel like I came off that way. I hate that everyone got to see me cry so many times. I’m not a cry baby! (Laughs.)

ESSENCE.COM: People made a big deal about the fact that A.J. once dated your dear friend and former Xscape bandmate Tiny. Was that ever awkward for you? KANDI: I’m glad you asked me that because Tiny dated him briefly ten years ago when she and I were going through something, but I never met him through her nor did I ever see them together. Three years ago, I would see him out in the clubs with different people that I knew and he reminded me that he first met me when he was managing a girl group and had let folks know he wanted me to work with them. Then one day he tried to talk to me and I was like, aaargh, because I knew he once dated Tiny and I called her and told her. She said, “Girl, please, I ain’t thinking about that anymore, but he’s cool; talk to him.” I still didn’t talk to him until last year when I ran into him again and he asked me out.

ESSENCE.COM: How difficult was it to watch your engagement party? KANDI: It was really weird seeing it after he passed knowing everything that has happened. It’s like he never left and is still here. My mom definitely feels bad about his death but I wouldn’t take anything she said back because that’s how she felt at the time. I haven’t watched the show with other people around. If I do get teary-eyed I want to do it alone. There have been a lot of things that have taken place that have taken a toll on me emotionally since his death, but I’m just a person who doesn’t ever want to be defeated. I have a daughter to raise who is depending on me. Ever since I lost my brother I look at death differently. Not to say it doesn’t defeat me, but I won’t let it tear me down; I have to pull myself together and keep myself preoccupied.

ESSENCE.COM: Well, you’ve got a lot going on with the launch of your boutique and release of your upcoming album. Has that happened? KANDI: Well, we were going to officially open TAGS later this week, but every time we are in the store working folks were just walking in, so it’s already open ahead of time. We will have the grand opening next month with a party. As far as my music, I ended up pushing the album back with so much going on. I decided to put out an EP of five songs including all of the songs that played throughout the show and add a couple of other ones. It will go straight to iTunes. I perform “Fly Above” on the reunion show and the single will be released that same day on October 29. It’s really just something to give to the fans in the meantime so that I can slow down a little bit.

Check out this gallery of KANDI BURRUSS: From Xscape to ‘Housewives’ >>