In a Rolling Stone interview, Billie Eilish gives us a glimpse into her personal life.
The interview shines a light on the pop phenomenon’s perspective on fame, life as a 17-year-old and her mental health.
In the rather candid interview with Rolling Stone’s Josh Eells, Billie Eilish delves into a side of her we’ve never seen. As she puts it, “When anyone else thinks about Billie Eilish at 14, they think of all the good things that happened. But all I can think of is how miserable I was. How completely distraught and confused. Thirteen to 16 was pretty rough.” The conversation shifts from homeschooling to growing up poor, to even her nightmares and her joys.
During the 40 minute discussion, she admits that she is nothing like the person she portrays in her music – a “might-seduce-your-dad-type” of girl. Billie is an average 17-year-old girl – in fact, during the interview she was packing her bags for the tour and cleaning her room, chores all of us would be familiar with.
She also reveals her process of finding a better mental state and creating pop music in a way that makes her happy. Though it was not easy, through the support of her friends and family, she has been able to reach a place that is much better for herself.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself”
That’s the advice she gives to fans, especially if she notices their scars from self-harm. Having struggled with self-harm herself, she knows what it’s like to feel like she “deserved to be in pain”. Her depressive tendencies began after a hip injury took her out of dance, something she had been invested in for a long time. At that point, she had started to develop body dysmorphia from the tiny outfits she had to wear at dance practices. She recounts, “I’ve never felt comfortable in really tiny clothes. I was always worried about my appearance. That was the peak of my body dysmorphia. I couldn’t look in the mirror at all.”
Looking back, she acknowledges that she was not comfortable trying to fit in with her dance mates, and should have been nicer to herself and put her needs first. Though she has gotten a lot better, she knows her self-harming tendencies and depressive self-talk are still a part of her. “I don’t trust myself when I’m alone,” she confessed.
“I’ve never felt more hopeless in my life”
In the lead up to her latest tour, Billie has had a tough time coming to terms with being on the road again. She doesn’t consider herself an anxious person, but in the week leading up to the tour, she was wracked by a sense of hopelessness. “I had a panic attack every single night. I cried for two hours every night. It was really, really bad,” she recalled.
She wants to be around friends and have things that bring her joy to look forward to over the next few months. “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.” She knows that as soon as she goes on tour, she would be missing out. Her friends would have new inside jokes and things would change while she’s on the road.
It’s at this point, that we are reminded that Billie is just a teenager. “Her teenage years were wrested from her,” Patrick O’Connell, her father, said. “She was being shuttled all over the country at 14. That’s really young,” her mother Maggie affirmed. She needs space to grow and maintain a sense of normalcy in a life that is anything but normal.
“When it first started, my biggest fear was that they would exploit her fast and be done with her”
Her family has taken steps to be a part of her recovery. Her tours are a family affair, with everyone pitching in to help with the shows. Her father is the handyman who solves small set issues. Her brother performs alongside her. But her mother plays the most critical role: she is her psychological barrier. “I just understand how things will fit into her mood better and not fuck up her day,” she explains.
Whether she’s checking on the wellbeing of the crew, taking pictures for fans or being the maternal figure for everyone on the tour, her number one priority is to look out for Billie. She is Billie’s filter, intercepting anyone who wants to meet the star. The family is aware that the industry can be extremely harsh and Billie might be too young to navigate that space alone. She says, “This has all been pretty wonderful and extraordinary, [but] we try to put a buffer between Billie and the ravenous industry. Because it’s too much.”
“But I needed it for my mental health, you know?”
It’s those moments, sitting on the bathroom floor, pondering her own happiness that has pushed Billie to find a balance between work and her personal needs. Exhaustion had caused her to develop rashes, which her doctor attributed to her body telling her she needed rest. She’s started looking for activities that can help her relax.
She has also begun seeing a therapist – although not for advice. “I was too much on me. I don’t want advice, because I’m not going to take it anyway. I just wanted to be heard,” she explained.
Part of her recovery includes a meticulous schedule that involves her friends joining segments of her tour, giving her something to look forward to. She’s also gotten a $1,000 a month horse ranch membership and a Dodge Challenger. “It cost a lot of money, and I don’t know if we can even afford it. But I needed it for my mental health, you know?”
Billie is fully aware that her job leaves little room for mental breakdowns and so she’s put in place a structure to help her find balance amid the chaos. Her journey to find this happy place is something we can learn from and apply in our own lives.
Check out the full interview at Rollingstones.com
What are some healthy ways you cope with stress and hardship? Share your journey in the comments below.
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