Billie Eilish: 'I Felt Like I Deserved to Be in Pain'

Singer talks self-harm, anxiety to 'Rolling Stone'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2019 1:40 PM CDT
Updated Aug 4, 2019 2:00 PM CDT
Billie Eilish on Life as a Pop Star: 'Amazing'—and Awful
Billie Eilish attends the 36th Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton on May 16, 2019.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Billie Eilish is not shy about her mental health struggles in a revealing and extensive interview with Rolling Stone. The 17-year-old August cover star saw a dream fulfilled as she rocketed to stardom with the spring release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? "The week it came out, she had 14 songs in the Top 100—more than any other female artist ever," writes Josh Eells. But "if I did want to be famous—it wasn't this kind," says the "Bad Guy" singer. While Eilish admits she has "an amazing job," she also says part of the interview took place during a time "I've never felt more hopeless in my life." On the eve of her tour, which began in April, "I cried for two hours every night … I threw up twice, from the anxiety," she says. "I just couldn't take the fact that I had to leave again … I was sitting on my bathroom floor, trying to think of something I could look forward to. And I could not think of one thing."

Eilish's father, actor Patrick O'Connell, gets it. "Her teenage years were wrested from her," he says. "She was being shuttled all over the country at 14," which is how old she was when she signed her first record deal. A year earlier, Eilish had gone viral with a song she and her brother recorded together. (They're still music partners; her album vocals were recorded on his bed.) But she'd also battled body dysmorphia as a competitive dancer, then suffered a career-ending hip injury. "I went through a whole self-harming phase … I felt like I deserved to be in pain," she says. "Thirteen to 16 was pretty rough." Yet the teenage angst from the singer who's never eaten meat (except for an accidental ant) and thinks 27 is "too old" is part of what fans love about her. And she sees herself in them, reminding girls with scars to take care of themselves. The full piece dives into her strategies for coping, including with a splurge tour item she says she "needed" for her mental health, and is definitely worth a read. (More music stories.)

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