Tragic details about Halsey
It all started in 2014. Halsey (an anagram of her real name, Ashley) was 19 and had just uploaded her first-ever single, “Ghost,” to SoundCloud. As she later told Interview, she “had no interest in being a singer,” rather, she shared the track simply because she “had some friends who were like, ‘If you put this up and it gets popular, you can make a quick thousand bucks.'”
Boy, were they right. According to Halsey, five record companies contacted her following the release of “Ghost” online, and she quickly signed with Astralwerks. Her first EP, Room 93, came out later that same year, and, in 2015, she released her debut album, Badlands. Since then, the New Jersey native has become a household name. In 2017, she released her follow-up record, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, then Manic dropped in 2020 and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart. What’s more, as of September 2020, her net worth clocked in at $12 million. But despite all of her successes, Halsey hasn’t had it easy. In fact, she’s experienced more heart-breaking drama and had to tackle more difficult challenges than most. These are the tragic details about Halsey you never knew.
Bipolar disorder made growing up difficult
Halsey hadn’t spoken much about her plight with mental health until a 2015 interview with Elle in which she spontaneously decided to reveal her bipolar disorder diagnosis. Noting that she’d “never talked about that in an interview before,” the songstress revealed that she was diagnosed at 16 or 17, that it was hereditary — “My mom has it, too” — and that she kept it under wraps so well that “a lot of people I work with probably don’t know it.” As she shared during a 2020 interview with YouTube’s Artist Spotlight Stories, “For a long time, I had really struggled with my mania. It was the worst part of me. I considered that girl, the manic one […] irresponsible, and untrustworthy, unreliable.”
Opening up to Elle about what it was like to receive the diagnosis as a teen living in a small town where everyone knew each other, and she was “the new kid” with a shaved head and tattoos, Halsey revealed that it made her feel like “a f***ing weirdo. This plight […] of being the ‘inconvenient woman,'” she continued, came from the fact that she’s “not always going to be agreeable.” As she went on, “I’m not always going to be calm. I’m entitled to my emotions and, unfortunately, because of the circumstance that I deal with, it’s a little more than other people.”
Halsey 'didn't like being Ashley Frangipane'
Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, didn’t have it easy growing up. As a 2016 Rolling Stone feature revealed, she and her two younger brothers grew up moving around a lot as their parents (who dropped out of college when Halsey’s mom became pregnant with her) took on any job(s) they could find. “I grew up in a really chaotic household,” Halsey recalled. In addition to the household drama, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teen, and that marked a sort of breaking point. “I didn’t like being Ashley Frangipane,” she admitted, explaining, “It was a person I thought was weak and silly and sad.”
What’s more, she had to deal with being the “weird girl” in school, not to mention getting a topless photo (which she took for her then-boyfriend) stolen from her gym locker and passed around the school. She was also dealing with heightened emotions. As she told Elle in 2015, “The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much,” she explained. “I used to say to [my mom] all the time, like, ‘I hate this. I want to be naïve. I want to be worried about my prom dress. I want to be worried about getting my math homework done. I want to be like everyone else my age,’ and she would say, ‘Would you rather be blissfully ignorant or would you rather be pained and aware?'”
She tried to take her own life at 17
It’s clear that Halsey was having a difficult time in her mid-teens, and, as she revealed in her 2016 Billboard cover story, she experienced what the magazine called “a rough couple of years.” As Halsey told the outlet, not fitting in at school, then being diagnosed with mental disorder took a real toll, and, in her senior year, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she stayed for a number of weeks. “I had tried to kill myself,” she revealed. “I was an adolescent; I didn’t know what I was doing. Because I was 17, I was still in a children’s ward,” she continued, calling it “terrifying. I was in there with 9-year-olds who had tried to kill themselves.”
Several years later, speaking at the 2019 Capitol Congress, Halsey talked about turning 25 and, calling herself “a speedball of a human,” told the audience (via Billboard), “I didn’t think I was going to be alive that long.” Explaining her shocking statement, she continued, “I grew up in a world where being 25 [meant] having three kids and being in a s***** relationship or I was going to be dead because young people with bipolar disorder who grow up with no resources don’t usually end up thriving at 25.”
She was once a homeless teen
After high school, Halsey was accepted into her dream college — Rhode Island School of Design — but couldn’t afford it. Ending up at community college instead, she dropped out and, as she told Rolling Stone, her parents kicked her out. “They just didn’t agree with a lot of things about me,” she noted. So a 17-year-old Halsey found herself on the street, dating a 23-year-old who, as she told Billboard, “had a really serious heroin addiction.” She was struggling. “I remember one time I had $9 in my bank account and bought a four-pack of Red Bull and used it to stay up overnight over the course of two or three days,” she told Rolling Stone. Why? Because “it was less dangerous to not sleep than it was to sleep somewhere random.”
Getting candid about that time in her life, she told Rolling Stone in 2019, “I didn’t have a pimp, no one was handing me money. But I was definitely dating dudes I wasn’t into because I could crash at their apartment.” She continued, “I was having sex as a means of survival.” As she told the Ending Youth Homelessness: A Benefit for My Friend’s Place gala (via USA Today) that same year, “It wasn’t because I did something bad” or “because my parents didn’t love me — because they did very much,” but simply because “a series of unfortunate circumstances led me to be in that position, and it can happen to absolutely anyone.”
She was hit with threats following a steamy performance
Halsey has never shied away from speaking openly about her experiences as “a young, bisexual woman,” but one particular performance left her fending off haters in 2018. Halsey was asked to perform ‘Without Me’ on The Voice finale, and she did so alongside her longtime dancer, Jade Chynoweth. The pair showed off several steamy dance moves together — which didn’t sit well with all viewers. The backlash quickly began pouring in on social media, but Halsey wasn’t in the least bit fazed. As she tweeted: “Very proud of the emotional performance I did with @JadeChynoweth on @NBCTheVoice tonight. And also very proud to have pissed off thw [sic] homophobic viewers at home who missed the message,” she quipped. Responding to one since-deleted negative comment, she also joked, “I too find hugs DISGUSTING!!!”
However, it seems the criticisms went far beyond what anyone saw on Twitter. As she told The Times in 2019, she received actual threats. “People were going, ‘What is this lesbian garbage on my TV?’ … My phone number leaked, my email leaked. People were texting me things like, ‘I’m going to rape you straight.’ Heinous stuff.” But she didn’t do it for the haters. As she explained, “Here’s what’s important, though — the young people sitting on the couch next to that angry dad, that angry mom, hearing them spewing hatred. The kid that’s scared to come out needs to see that on the TV.”
Her battle with endometriosis made her feel 'inadequate'
Halsey dreams of becoming a mother, but her struggle with endometriosis (an illness that can cause severe pain during menstruation and fertility problems, according to Mayo Clinic) has made it more of a nightmare. As the “Manic” singer revealed to Rolling Stone in 2016, she had a miscarriage on tour in 2015 because of the disease. She was scheduled to perform that night and eventually decided not to cancel the show — something she still regrets because “this thing, this music, Halsey, whatever it is that I’m doing, took precedence and priority over every decision that I made.”
It’s a struggle she’s braved for years. In a since-deleted 2017 Instagram post, Halsey revealed (via People) that she had “multiple terrifying surgeries […] that would hopefully treat my endometriosis” and, in 2018, a 23-year-old Hasley told The Doctors (via People) that she was considering freezing her eggs in an effort “to be aggressive about protecting my fertility.” Meanwhile, in a since-deleted 2019 tweet, she revealed (via Metro UK) that the illness had actually caused her to have “3 miscarriages, 4 surgeries” and to be “pretty much in pain every day of my life.”
Opening up about her struggles with motherhood in 2020, Halsey told The Guardian that having a miscarriage is “the most inadequate I’ve ever felt. Here I am achieving this out-of-control life, and I can’t do the one thing I’m biologically put on this earth to do,” she explained.
Her sexual assault story inspired a heart-breaking poem
Speaking at the 2018 Women’s March in New York City, Halsey revealed yet another tragic detail about her past, as she got candid about her personal experiences with sexual assault. Reading a poem she dubbed “A Story Like Mine,” she recalled a number of harrowing encounters in which she was abused, beginning with 2002 when the son of one of her mom’s friends promised to “teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet […] And I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie,” she read.
Halsey then moved on to 2012, a time when she was dating an older man who was “paying for everything” and, in return, had “taken to forcing me down on my knees; And I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says ‘Please,'” she said. The powerful poem then went on to reveal that as her fame grew, Halsey became certain that she would now be “protected ’cause I live on a screen,” but in 2017, “a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants; But I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to dance; And I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s blood; Is that my blood?”
The singer concluded her emotional speech with a powerful statement, proclaiming, “It’s 2018, and I’ve realized nobody is safe as long as she is alive.”
She's convinced 'nobody' wants to be her friend
Sitting down for an interview with Vulture in 2017, Halsey, who, at that point, had been living in Los Angeles for three years, opened up about her struggle to make meaningful connections. As she told the outlet, she’d worked hard to organize outings to places like Disneyland and to try to build genuine bonds, but it just wasn’t working. “I’d ask, ‘How’s your mom? Did you get the apartment?’ And they talk back and then don’t ask me anything,” she told the mag. “Someone just f****** talk to me, please.”
Jump to 2020, and that feeling didn’t go away. An outspoken advocate for mental health and a proud member of the #MeToo movement, Halsey told The Guardian that always speaking her mind sure hasn’t helped her make any friends. Not even among her fellow female pop stars. “Nobody wants to be my friend,” she declared, reasoning, “They’re scared I’m gonna pop off about something. I’m drama by association. I put myself out there with my peers; I don’t know if people really ever wanted to do the same with me,” she added, concluding, “So I stopped wasting my energy.”
She still struggles, but fame makes her 'accountable'
Things are mostly looking up for Halsey as her star rises. Her career is stronger than ever — in May 2020, Variety reported that she had surpassed 50 million RIAA-certified units — and, as she told The Guardian in 2020, motherhood is “looking like something that’s gonna happen for me.” What she is still struggling with, as she confessed to Rolling Stone in 2019, is the reality of mental illness. Halsey, who admitted to being in a manic state at the time, said, “I know I’m just going to get f****** depressed and be boring again soon. I hate that that’s a way of thinking,” she added. “Every time I wake up and realize I’m back in a depressive episode, I’m bummed.”
The fame has done her more good than bad, however, “because it makes me accountable,” she explained. Revealing that she’s “been committed twice since [I became] Halsey, and no one’s known about it,” she told the mag she’s “not ashamed of talking about it now” because she’s in control. “It’s been my choice,” she noted. “I’ve said to [my manager], ‘Hey, I’m not going to do anything bad right now, but I’m getting to the point where I’m scared that I might, so I need to go figure this out.’ It’s still happening in my body. I just know when to get in front of it.”
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