Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles

Many of us are in a constant battle with our mental illnesses or mental health struggles each day. Pop stars and musicians are no different. They too, like us, are victims of this ordeal and have spoken up about the same.

Even with all the fame and money in the world, there is much pain and suffering they endure in their own ways. Our beloved artists, whose music we love and admire have opened up about their mental health struggles. Here are some of them who shared with us what they went through and continue to fight –

Adele

Although the Grammy award-winning singer was back with her hit comeback album last year, Adele did open up about the time she wasn’t doing so well. She detailed overcoming her mental health battle, especially after giving birth to her son when she first became a mom ten years ago. She said that the demands of constantly caring for a newborn baby and the huge emotional burden of becoming a parent contributed to a decline in her mental health.

“Giving, giving, giving, to a baby or a toddler, when they can’t even fucking talk to you, your brain goes a bit mushy. You’re not stimulated very much,” the ‘Easy On Me’ singer said. “In that, I also got really quite bad postpartum depression, or postnatal as we call it [in the UK].”

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Adele is just one of the many who suffered from Postpartum depression (PPD) which is extremely common. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that about 1 in 8 people who give birth in the U.S. experience symptoms of PPD, which usually come on about one to three weeks after giving birth. They can include feelings of numbness or disconnection from the baby, being concerned about harming the baby, or feelings of guilt or self-doubt about your caregiving abilities, according to the CDC.

During an interview with The Face, Adele “elaborated on something she said during her Grammys acceptance speech in 2017: that she “lost a lot” of herself in pregnancy and new motherhood, as per SELF.

“There are definitely a few elements of myself that I don’t think I’ll ever get back,” explained Adele. “More than anything, it’s the freedom of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Going somewhere and not having to prioritize someone else.” Ever since Angelo was born, he has “obviously” been Adele’s “number one priority,” continued the singer who gave birth to son Angelo in 2012.

According to Daily Mail, Adele explained that she suffered from both, psychological and physical problems. These were worsened by the breakdown of her two-year marriage, noting that gluten intolerance also contributed to her depression. She also discussed her battle to get out of bed, during which she simply lay watching ‘The Sopranos’ despite knowing she “needed to stay busy”, she told Rolling Stone magazine: “Anything that could soothe my anxiety, I threw myself in headfirst. [I traveled] anywhere where there’s meant to be brilliant energy.”

ZAYN

Zayn first opened up about his anxiety after canceling his Capital Summertime Ball performance. In his self-titled book, the ‘Pillowtalk’ singer shared that one of his team members offered to write a statement saying that the star was ill. However, he didn’t want to do that. Zayn put out a statement, sharing the truth about his mental health struggles.

Ariana Grande

In 2019, the ‘Positions’ singer took to Instagram to share images of the then-recent brain scans. The singer claimed to suggest that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The star had just finished her concert in Manchester on 22 May 2017, when a suicide bomber detonated a homemade explosive device. It killed twenty-two people and injured hundreds more.

Grande shared a screenshot of a group text she had sent to her friends in which she sent a photo of three brain scans. One of a “healthy brain,” which showed very few highlighted areas. The other photo was of the brain of someone with PTSD. This image had several areas of the brain outlined. Below that text, Ariana then sent an image of her own brain scan. This photo showed almost double the highlighted areas as the PTSD sample.

“Hilarious and terrifying… not a joke,” Grande wrote on the Instagram story.

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It was unknown when Ariana Grande had the brain scan or in what context it was taken. The singer’s post opened up the discussion about the physiological impact PTSD can have on a person. However, as per The Independent, experts claimed that it was not yet possible to diagnose the disorder with a scan alone.

Professor David Nutt, the Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College London, tells The Independent: “We would need to know what type of these scans are and if they were taken at rest or when reliving the trauma. “But in general you can’t as yet diagnose PTSD from a scan.”

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. It can develop in some people after witnessing or being involved in traumatic events. Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Texas at Austin, said several studies have shown changes in the brains of patients with PTSD.

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“There is no doubt that PTSD changes the way the brain responds to trauma-related and other emotional stimuli, however, there are no brain imaging tests that are diagnostic of PTSD,” he told CNN.

That was not the first time Grande opened up about her struggle as she said she didn’t think she’d ever know how to talk about the attack “and not cry” in a July 2018 interview with British Vogue.

“I know those families and my fans, and everyone there experienced a tremendous amount of it as well,” Grande said of suffering the symptoms of PTSD. “I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about my own experience — like I shouldn’t even say anything.

Beyoncé 

The iconic singer Beyoncé got candid about her past struggles in a Harper’s Bazaar interview where she covers the magazine for their September “Icons” Issue. The Grammy-winning singer shared how her grueling schedule caused her to develop insomnia.

“I think, like many women, I have felt the pressure of being the backbone of my family and my company and didn’t realize how much that takes a toll on my mental and physical well-being,” the superstar told the magazine. “I have not always made myself a priority. I’ve personally struggled with insomnia from touring for more than half of my life.”

That pressure also led the ‘Formation’ singer to struggle with her diet and body positivity as she opened up explaining, “In the past, I spent too much time on diets, with the misconception that self-care meant exercising and being overly conscious of my body.”

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“My health, the way I feel when I wake up in the morning, my peace of mind, the number of times I smile, what I’m feeding my mind and my body—those are the things that I’ve been focusing on.”

Beyoncé added that shifting her focus to caring for her mental health has helped her learn to “break the cycle of poor health and neglect,” as per Entertainment Tonight.

“Mental health is self-care too. I’m learning to break the cycle of poor health and neglect, focusing my energy on my body and taking note of the subtle signs that it gives me. Your body tells you everything you need to know, but I’ve had to learn to listen.”

Ed Sheeran 

Last year, Ed Sheeran revealed he would “hate” for his daughter to suffer from depression when he spoke about how mental health issues run in his family while appearing on a Swedish TV show. The singer, who is a proud dad to Lyra, talked about how he fears she will grow up to experience the ‘real lows’, which he can relate to, according to Daily Mail.

“I don’t want her to have the ability to have real lows. I would hate for her to have that. I know she will, as it runs in my family. But I would hate for her to feel sad and not know why,” the ‘Bad Habits’ singer said.

Back in 2019, Ed touched upon how fame has given him crippling anxiety. It caused him to close down his social circles and get rid of his phone.

Demi Lovato

Back in 2011, Demi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after years of struggling with bulimia, cutting, and drug addiction. They decided to share what she was going through, raise awareness, and help others in need. The ‘Cool for the Summer’ singer is the spokesperson for a campaign called Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, an initiative that focuses on encouraging people with mental illness to speak up.

It is also for others to raise their voices in support of changing the way mental illness is talked about and breaking down the stigma surrounding it. “It’s a passion of mine—mental health advocacy—and I’ve decided to partner up with Be Vocal because it’s something that’s really powerful when it comes to not only informing people about what mental illness is but also what you can do to get help,” Demi told WomensHealthMag.com.

The former Disney channel star wants women to know that “it’s possible to live well, feel well, and also find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness they’re struggling with,” as per Women’s Health.

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“I remember sitting with my manager and my family and talking to them about whether or not to speak out about the issues that I was dealing with,” Demi says. “I knew that there were two options: I could either not talk about my stint in rehab and hope that it went away, or I could talk about it and inspire people to get help for their issues, as well, so that’s exactly what I did.”

About 5.7 million American adults have bipolar disorder, as per the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and it can often take years for someone to get the correct diagnosis. This is what Demi underwent though, for years, people said they were depressed, “and I actually didn’t know myself why I was so upset and why I would have these episodes of mania—what I now know is mania,” the ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ singer said.

During these manic periods, Demi would stay up until 5 a.m. and write seven songs in one night, “Sometimes I felt invincible, and it was these moments when my mind would go all over the place,” the ‘Sonny With A Chance’ star says.

Not knowing what was behind the behavior led to addiction, states Women’s Health. “When you don’t know what’s happening, why you’re feeling certain ways, and you don’t have the answers yet, people tend to self-medicate, which is exactly what I did,” Demi says.

Kendrick Lamar

The Grammy-winning renowned rapper Kendrick Lamar opened up about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts in an interview with MTV becoming vulnerable when discussing the song ‘u’ off of his 2015 Grammy-winning album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. In the emotional track, Lamar discusses his inner demons. He raps:

“I know your secrets… I know depression is restin’ on your heart for two reasons… And if this bottle could talk I cry myself to sleep / Bitch everything is your fault… Shoulda killed yo ass a long time ago /

You shoulda feeled that black revolver blast a long time ago / 

And if those mirrors could talk it would say ‘you gotta go’ / 

And if I told your secrets /

 The world’ll know money can’t stop a suicidal weakness.”

“I’ve pulled that song not only from previous experiences, but, I think my whole life, I think everything is drawn out of that. Even situations from Good Kid M.A.A.D City…” the rapper said.

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The ‘HUMBLE’ rapper further discussed the troubles that he sees back home in Compton, California. He also opened up about the struggle that he has in coping with not being able to help as well as the struggles with survivor’s guilt after seeing far too many loved ones get killed.

“When I was on that tour bus and things is happening back home in my city or in my family that I can’t do nothing about, it’s out of my control, [and to]put it in God’s hands, I couldn’t understand that,” Lamar said, as per US Magazine. He revealed moments when he was on the road and not able to be in California to help his friends and family members. “That can draw a thin line between you having your sanity and you losing it. This is how artists deteriorate if you don’t catch yourself.”

“Three of my homeboys [one]summertime was murdered, close ones too, not just somebody that I hear about,” the artist began. “These [are]people I grew up with. It all, psychologically, it messes your brain up. You live in this life, you know what I’m saying, but you still have to face the realities of this. I gotta get back off that tour bus and go to these funerals… Talk to my mom and talk to their aunties — the kids that lost their lives.”

Lady Gaga

“Everybody thinks you get sick and then get cured. It’s just not like that,” superstar Lady Gaga says in Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey’s mental health docuseries, ‘The Me You Can’t See.’ She says this in the show’s first episode about the ups and downs of mental illness fighting back tears while talking about going through hard times.

Although this isn’t the first time, ‘The Star Is Born’ actress has had discussions about her depression, anxiety, PTSD and self-harm, that trace those conditions back to the sexual assault and other traumas she has endured, explaining, “I went through a really crazy time in my head…I had a total psychotic break, and for a couple years I was not the same girl.”

According to Parade, Gaga admitted that even today, “the process of healing and my mental health has been a slow rise. Even if I have six brilliant months, all it takes is getting triggered once to feel bad.”

“I was raped repeatedly when I was 19 years old, and I also developed PTSD as a result of being raped and also not processing that trauma. I did not have anyone help me, I did not have a therapist, I did not have a psychiatrist, I did not have a doctor help me through it,” she said.

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Gaga expanded on her struggle with mental health and chronic pain. She opened up about the importance of medication, calling it a controversial topic. The star “noted that there’s still an intense stigma surrounding treating mental illness with medication, which is why it’s so important that the star is so honest about her own use of mental health medicine,” as per Teen Vogue.

“Medication has helped me tremendously,” the singer said. “I take an anti-psychotic. [If I didn’t take it] I would spiral very frequently and I would spasm in my sleep.”

Lady Gaga speaking openly about her own mental health medication can help reduce the stigma associated with treating mental illness. Starting a conversation about it can help others realize that there’s nothing bad or wrong about getting any sort of medical treatment — whether it’s for your mind or your body.

“Medicine really helped me. A lot of people are afraid of medicine for their brains to help them. I really want to erase the stigma around this,” she said.

“I’m sick of saying it over and over again. Not everybody has access to these things, not everybody has money for these things. I want the money for it, I want the best doctors in the world, and I want us to understand the brain and get on the same page about it so Gen Z does not have to deal with this the way we are right now. Mental health is a crisis.”

Olly Alexander

An advocate for LGBTQ, Olly Alexander, the frontperson of the electro-pop group Years & Years, is a celebrity who has gained thousands of fans, not just for his music. Alexander has won the hearts of many for his openness about mental health.

“The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime,” he told The Guardian’s Owen Jones.

“It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”

Olly told Alastair Campbell for GQ Magazine that he would self harm as a teenager. The singer takes daily medication to manage his symptoms of depression.

Janet Jackson

The legendary Janet Jackson’s 30s were far from perfect. They were plagued with mental health issues. “I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense,” she wrote in a revelatory letter for Essence magazine. “Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards.”

“And of course, there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism,” Jackson continued. “Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way through it.”

According to CNN, Jackson described feeling unhappy about her appearance as a child.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. For most of my life, that lack of happiness followed me,” she wrote. “I wish someone had said, ‘You look fine. You look healthy. Being a little chubby is the least important thing in the world. Enjoy your childhood. Enjoy running and laughing and playing. Stop looking in the mirror and comparing yourself to others.”

The following decade, too, was challenging for the star. “In my forties: Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value,” she wrote.

“Happiness was elusive,” the singer added. “A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”

 

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