Ed Sheeran Reveals Mental Health Struggles While Making New Album: “I Felt Like I Was Drowning”

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05: Ed Sheeran performs on stage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/WireImage)

Ed Sheeran is getting vulnerable ahead of the release of his new album, “Subtract.” In a handwritten journal entry posted to Twitter and photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the singer-songwriter opened up about his tumultuous past year and mental health struggles, both of which influenced his latest album.

“I had been working on Subtract for a decade, trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be. Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art,” he wrote.

All of a sudden, he was replacing “decades worth of work” with his “deepest, darkest thoughts,” Sheeran said. According to the “Perfect” singer, the sudden change was brought on by a series of difficult events.

“Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumour, with no route for treatment until after the birth. My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly, and I found myself in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter,” Sheeran said.

The artist has been married to his long-time love, Cherry Seaborn since 2019. He didn’t go into further detail about Seaborn’s condition, only that it had a strong impact on his mental health, in addition to the loss of his good friend Jamal Edwards. Sheeran released a song titled “F64” in tribute to Edwards nearly a year after his death, per BBC. Edwards referred to Sheeran as his “brother,” as shown in his last Instagram post, a birthday message to Sheeran. All of this, on top of Sheeran’s public court battle over plagiarism for “Shape of You,” led to his “spiralling through fear, depression and anxiety,” the singer wrote in his diary.

“I felt like I was drowning, head below the surface, looking but not being able to break through for air,” he continued. This album is an expression of that mental struggle, Sheeran calling it a “trapdoor into my soul.”

This isn’t the first time Sheeran has been open about his mental health. The British star has taken several social media breaks over the years and spoken publicly about his struggles with depression, panic attacks, and addiction, per ET Online. Fortunately, Sheeran has been able to use music to cope and make sense of his feelings and experiences. “Writing songs is my therapy,” he wrote in his recent letter.

His new album, “Subtract,” will be available May 5.

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