Bebe Rexha is opening up about living with bipolar disorder and why she felt it was important to share her story with her fans.
The 30-year-old singer, who covers Self‘s March issue, explained in the accompanying interview that she was “very fearful” at first to publicly reveal her mental health status.
“I didn’t want to think there was something wrong with me,” she said of going public with her diagnosis in April 2019.
The star explained that she had only learned that she was bipolar shortly before sharing the news with her followers.
“That was my worst fear all my life: going crazy. I felt like me opening up to my fans was me finally saying, ‘I’m not going to be imprisoned by this,'” she added.
She also hoped that being candid about the diagnosis would “make somebody not feel imprisoned, in that moment, if they feel like they’re going through a rough time,” explaining to Self, “that’s why I decided to really open up and to free myself from that.”
Rexha — born Bleta Rexha — told the outlet she has bipolar I, which is defined as having severe manic or depressive episodes, or times of both, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
The “I’m a Mess” artist found that music has been a cathartic way to deal with her mental health fears and struggles.
Rexha went on to tease the song “Break My Heart Myself,” from her upcoming album, sharing several lyrics that allude to her diagnosis.
“It goes like, ‘Hello, my name is Stevie / Actually, I’m lying. It’s really Bebe. / It’s the meds. They make me really sleepy. / Klonopin, my friend, yeah, she numbs the feeling,’” Rexha recited. “And then it’s, ‘My doctor upped my dosage. / My mom felt bad, so she sent me roses. But without it, I get really hopeless, and 5.7 of Americans know it.’”
The singer explained that the last phrase references the statistic that an estimated 5.7 million American adults are affected by bipolar disorder.
“It’s important for me to laugh at myself sometimes, and also spread information, and normalize it, because it makes me feel better instead of writing a sobby ballad,” she said.
Adding, “Which, you totally could do — there’s not anything wrong with that. But I like to be sarcastic about things sometimes. It takes away the pain and the hurt.”
Rexha shared that she began to see signs of the disorder at a young age, explaining that she was always “anxious, scared of what was going to happen.”
The artist dealt with episodes of manic, where she would “get super hyper” and “couldn’t control [her] emotions … couldn’t sit still,” as well as severe mood swings and depression that made her “feel just weird feelings, weird emotions, weird thoughts all the time.”
“I’d be in the passenger seat of the car and I would want to open the door and jump out and just get fucking squashed. Which is terrible,” she explained of her depressive episodes.
While the singer wanted to get help, she told the outlet there was a constant inner battle over the stigma of mental illness.
“It’s the war you have inside your head: Will it affect my career? Will people judge me? Will they want to work with me? If people have been calling me crazy, are they going to be like, ‘Well, that bitch is fucking crazy?’” she explained to the magazine.
Rexha said that now, her treatment of therapy and medication has made her “feel so much better.”
She continued to Self, “It’s helped me live a more balanced life, less ups and downs. When my medication started kicking in, I couldn’t believe how I felt. I couldn’t believe that’s how good people could feel.”
Looking back on her experiences, she said, “There’s nothing to feel bad for.”
“I’m fine, I’m healthy, I’m working on myself,” she told the outlet. “I’m bettering myself as a human.”