Bebe Rexha on her bipolar disorder: my worst fear was going crazy
Last year, singer Bebe Raxha let her fans and the rest of the world know that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her intent was to share her experience so that others going through it might see themselves and seek the help they needed to deal with it. Bebe is Self Magazine’s March cover person. In it, she opens up about how she’s processing her diagnosis, what scared her the most about it and how those fears are abating the more she learns about her disorder.
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.”
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.”
My guess is that many people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder worry about “going crazy.” Historically, many disorders were misdiagnosed, covered up or, tragically, ignored so they manifested themselves in the worst possible way. It’s likely that those who have a hereditary disorder grew up with stories about an untreated family member who acted irrationally because of their disorder. So I completely get Bebe’s initial fears. And that’s why it’s so fantastic she’s speaking out like this, to assure others that with acknowledgement, development in treatments and complete information, these disorders are much more livable than widely thought. I like the way Bebe phrased it, that she won’t let bipolar or the fear of it imprison her. I hope that message comes through to everyone.
I’m looking forward to Bebe’s next album. This has been a year of exploration and enlightenment but, as she said, she’s playful in her music – sarcastic without being irreverent. I imagine this album will be deeply personal and hopefully it will inspire some of those 5.7 million Americans living with bipolar.
Photo credit: Heather Hazzan/Self Magazine and WENN/Avalon Photos
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