“I manage my lifestyle to keep up with my mental illness,” declared Halsey, in an interview with Marie Claire. Halsey, also known as Ashley Frangipane, is not afraid to tell the uncomfortable and sometimes grisly truth about bipolar disorder. For Halsey, success goes hand-in-hand with mental illness. They exist together, as two parts of the her life — one which she describes as “multidimensional.”
Bipolar disorder informs how Halsey approaches her creative process, she explained to the mag. It goes beyond her ever-changing hairstyle; she describes her music writing style as “scavenging.” She’ll read books, watch movies (her current inspiration is The Florida Project), and muses about living in Italy for a year.
Halsey begins by sharing that her mother, a hospital security worker, also had bipolar disorder. The National Institute of Health notes that risks of developing bipolar disorder are greater among first-degree relatives, like parent and child, than the general population. Her childhood was subject to her mom’s changing moods; Halsey describes eating ice cream for dinner during one of her mother’s manic episodes.
She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17, following hospitalisation for a suicide attempt. Medication and music helped Halsey manage her mental illness, and she credits performing live as having a mitigating effect on her symptoms. “That’s why I tour so much. I release endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine. Like, it’s literally a drug response,” said Halsey.
Reproductive health issues would also enter her life. In 2015, Halsey had a miscarriage right before a concert in Chicago; she performed the show in a nappy and immediately went to a Planned Parenthood clinic afterwards. She told this visceral story at the 2018 Women’s March in her poem “Story of Mine.” Halsey also suffers from endometriosis, and wants to get pregnant before age increases risks of complications.
Part of what makes Halsey so fascinating is her candour in discussing these issues. The stigma around reproductive and mental illness is very real, but Halsey has no qualms about breaking down those walls. It’s refreshing, it’s unique, but it’s incredibly healthy. These are issues that a lot of people deal with everyday — and hopefully, having Halsey’s voice in their corner can help us find our own.