As the deaths of icons like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington prove, being a massively successful rock star doesn’t make you immune to life’s problems. Musicians are just as prone to suffering from depression or anxiety as the rest of us — actually, they’re three times more likely to face those struggles, a study from last year found.
Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy has been open about his experience with these things in the past, and he recently spent the better part of an hour talking about it with host John Moe on an episode of the Hilarious World Of Depression podcast. Tweedy said that as a kid, he had severe migraines that were so bad they would make him throw up, and although it wasn’t evident at the time, he sees a connection between the migraines and his depression:
“I don’t really remember when they started. I think right around six years old or something, I started getting pretty serious headaches where I would vomit until I was dehydrated. [It was] just kind of full-blown migraine experience. […] I didn’t really identify it until much later, but I kind of recognized that the patterns of it were existent for a long time. There’s a theory I have that I don’t know if it’s born out by any kind of scientific research, but I think the depression and anxiety has some connection to the migraines for me, or maybe just the stress of those psychological mood disorders would contribute to migraines.
In some ways, I think that migraines were a way of making psychic pain visible to the people around me that weren’t able to see that there was real psychic pain. I think that’s a problem everyone that suffers from depression has, is that it doesn’t look real. Everybody gets sad and everybody has a certain amount of depression, so people who don’t really experience it as a disorder tend to think, ‘Well, why can’t you just not be sad?’ I think that throwing up 30 times in a row and being obviously in enormous pain could have had some sort of connection early on that I didn’t make until later.”
Tweedy also said that to deal with these problems, he would self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana, and eventually, opioids, to the point where he found himself in rehab a few years ago.
Listen to the full episode here.