"When I was on Idol … they weren't really looking at my gift," Barrino, 26, who was named season 3 champ, told Gayle King on her radio show Tuesday.
"[Producers] were focusing on all the bad things I had done before I made it there," she said. "I have feelings, you know. I'm human."
As she recalled, the stint on Idol, followed by a home foreclosure, a throat tumor she developed in 2008 while on Broadway in The Color Purple and business troubles, including mismanaged money, deepened her depression.
"There were people coming after me who had already done me wrong," Barrino told King.
Even potential bright spots in her career, like releasing her autobiography, which she adapted into a television movie, stung.
"[After] putting out my Lifetime movie and my book [Life Is Not a Fairy Tale], [people] picked certain things in the book, [saying], 'She's illiterate, she's dumb,' " Barrino recalled.
"[And] I had to sit and hear comedians crack their jokes," she said, "and certain people say what they had to say."