Billie Eilish Gets Real About Mental Disorders, Self-Harm, & The SCARY Side Of Fame

If you ever wondered what made Billie Eilish tick, you’re in luck.

The You Should See Me in a Crown singer gave a no-filter interview to Rolling Stone in which she discusses her depression, her mental disorders, and even the pitfalls of becoming famous (no, it’s not a champagne problem — there was a pretty scary incident).

Video: Billie’s Justin Bieber Remix

Get all the highlights — and sad lowlights — of Billie’s life (below)!

Contents

Mental Health

Billie is open about her mental health issues.

She was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when she was younger, a disorder which causes involuntary verbal or physical tics. For some it manifests as yelling curse words; for Billie it’s a head twitch and an eye bulge which are hardly noticeable as being unintentional.

She also has synesthesia, a rare disorder in which neural pathways get crossed and senses get sort of remixed before the brain interprets them. This causes Billie to “hear” smells. She tries to explain:

“Every person I know has their own color and shape and number in my head, but it’s normal to me.”

She says her megahit track Bad Guy is “not hot, but warm, like an oven. And it smells like cookies.”

Body Issues

Billie did a lot of serious dance training early in life, and when was 12, she joined a competitive dance company, and it was not good for her self esteem. As she recalls:

“That was probably when I was the most insecure. I wasn’t as confident. I couldn’t speak and just be normal. When I think about it or see pictures of me then, I was so not OK with who I was.”

What was the issue? For one she was surrounded by what she viewed as “really pretty girls” who were all friends already. Also:

“At dance, you wear really tiny clothes. And 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.”

As you may have noticed, Billie’s signature look is still big and baggy.

That’s not a coincidence.

Depression

At one point Billie shows the interviewer a notebook of doodles and lyric ideas. On one page he sees the written “Scared, broken, and alone.” and “I’m sad again.” Billie explains:

“Yeah. This is when I was… not good.”

It turns out that dance troupe injured more than her self-image.

In a fall in an advanced hip-hop class, Billie ruptured the growth plate in her hip. She had to quit dance altogether:

“I think that’s when the depression started. It sent me down a hole. I went through a whole self-harming phase — we don’t have to go into it. But the gist of it was, I felt like I deserved to be in pain.”

This was just when her music was first starting to go viral. She actually recorded her hit song Ocean Eyes, which her brother wrote and produced, specifically as a piece to choreograph to for dance class. She muses:

“It’s funny. 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.”

She says she sometimes sees her own issues when she looks at her fans:

“Sometimes I see girls at my shows with scars on their arms, and it breaks my heart. I don’t have scars anymore because it was so long ago. But I’ve said to a couple of them, ‘Just be nice to yourself.’ Because I know. I was there.”

She has been having other problems more recently…

A Real Scare

Billie has gotten a lot more famous this year with the release of her debut full length album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and it hasn’t been all for the best.

She says:

“I’ve loved attention my whole life… but I don’t think anyone knows what fame actually is. Because if I did want to be famous — it wasn’t this kind.”

Unfortunately she’s reached a level of fame in which some fans have taken their adoration too far. In a scary recent incident, Billie’s home address leaked online; in just one day three different fans just showed up — one of which was described as “a creepy older guy” who had driven all the way from San Diego.

The family hired a bodyguard who slept in the living room of their small Los Angeles home. Billie expresses:

“It was really traumatizing. I completely don’t feel safe in my house anymore, which sucks. I love my house.”

That would be scary for anyone — but imagine the idea that could just be starting. Eesh.

Billie says she can no longer even watch her beloved horror movies because everything freaks her out too much.

“I saw creatures outside my windows. I had sleep paralysis. I’m done with the fake shit — real life is way too scary.”

Anxiety

As she later reveals in the second part of her interview, this week has been “one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever had”:

“I’ve never felt more hopeless in my life.”

Billie says she doesn’t usually suffer from panic attacks.

“But that week I had a panic attack every single night. I cried for two hours every night. It was really, really bad.”

What was so anxiety-inducing?

The idea of going back on tour.

A few weeks before the interview Billie had gotten multiple unexplained rashes; her doctor (adorably, she still goes to her same pediatrician) told her it was because she needed rest.

Now she was about to go back on tour:

“I just couldn’t take the fact that I had to leave again. It felt like an endless limbo. Like there was no end in sight. And, I mean, it’s true: There really is no end in sight with touring.”

She already has shows planned through 2020, a tour which will take her all over the world. And the idea is more than daunting to the teenager:

“Thinking about that literally made me throw up. I’m not a throw-upper, but I threw up twice, from the anxiety.”

Billie says her pre-tour anxiety had never been this bad before:

“There was a moment when I was sitting on my bathroom floor — this sounds depressing, because it was — but 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. I thought for a long time, too. I was like, ‘There has to be something.’ But there was nothing…

Every time I was alone, I would break down and kind of crumble. It got to the point where my friend would say, ‘I’m going home, see you,’ and I’d get this feeling in my stomach like a knife being twisted around. I felt unsafe with myself, even for an hour.”

She was not talking about being scared of deranged intruders but of harming herself.

“I don’t trust myself when I’m alone.”

She got through it with friends, therapy, and by keeping busy:

“It was literally just a week — but it was so intense it feels like a whole year of my life I’m talking about right now. It was just a completely random week of bursting misery.”

Thankfully the moment has passed. As she says, she doesn’t time to break down right now:

“I can’t go cry somewhere, I can’t go scream and be mad. I have to work.”

Ch-ch-check out her cover (below):

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