It may seem as though Billie Eilish has it all — fame, fortune, the Dodge Charger she’s always wanted. And while the “Bad Guy” singer certainly experienced a rapid rise to the top, it was even more impressive because she did it on her own terms, recording and making music with her brother Finneas in their home. And the best part? It worked. Eilish knows her Gen Z audience better than anyone.
Still, Eilish is just a teenager, and living life in the spotlight at just 17 has proven to be difficult — especially as someone with a history of depression. “I have this amazing thing in front of me, and I don’t want to hate it,” she told Rolling Stone of her fame in a new cover story. “And I don’t hate it. But I hate certain parts of it.” For Eilish, coming to this conclusion has been hard because, according to her, she always liked being the center of attention. Fame, however, has proven to be a different type of attention — one that she’s not particularly fond of. “I don’t think anyone knows what fame actually is. Because if I did want to be famous — it wasn’t this kind,” she added.
Fortunately, Eilish is in a good place now, noting that this year has been the best of her life. “I haven’t been depressed in a minute, which is great,” she told the magazine. But like many other people her age, it’s been a long journey, and it certainly didn’t come without its struggles. Eilish specifically mentioned her rise to superstardom — a series of events that many might assume were full of happiness. “It’s funny,” she said. “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.”
After joining a dance company during that era, the competitive environment really took a toll on her confidence. “That was probably when I was the most insecure,” she said. “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.” She was also experiencing what she referred to as “the peak of my body dysmorphia.” Then, at 13, a hip injury gave her no choice but to quit. “I think that’s when the depression started,” she said. “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.”
Now that Eilish has found herself on the other side of that pain, all she wants to do is be there for her struggling fans and remind them to take care of themselves. “Sometimes I see girls at my shows with scars on their arms, and it breaks my heart,” she said. “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.” And while she’s feeling better now, the Gen Z icon still experiences bouts of anxiety and depression, most recently caused by having to go back on tour. “I had a panic attack every single night,” she said.” I cried for two hours every night. It was really, really bad. … I just couldn’t take the fact that I had to leave again. … Thinking about that literally made me throw up. I’m not a throw-upper, but I threw up twice, from the anxiety.”
This anxious and depressed state, according to Eilish, lasted for about a week. However, she remembers it feeling much longer. “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.” In that single week, she said she couldn’t think of anything to look forward to and was truly afraid of being alone. “I’d get this feeling in my stomach like a knife being twisted around. I felt unsafe with myself, even for an hour.” she said. “I don’t trust myself when I’m alone.”
Luckily, Eilish, her parents, and the rest of her team have taken extra measures to make sure she’s mentally in a good place — especially while on tour. The singer has gone to see a therapist, scheduled time for her friends to visit, and even chartered an extra bus for them. And although she sometimes feels like she “can’t go cry somewhere” because of her job, even she admits that touring has been much better than she ever expected, and that, overall, her career is pretty cool. “I have an amazing job, dude. I really do. The things I get to do in my career have just been unbelievable. … If I’m putting on my third-person cocky hat, the shit is fucking amazing. Going anywhere and being looked at because everyone knows who you are? That’s crazy! So I really cannot complain. But I do anyway.”