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But whilst the success mounted, so did the singer’s anxiety and panic attacks. Here, in the latest episode of GLAMOUR UNFILTERED – our bi-weekly chat show hosted by Josh Smith – the 26-year-old reveals how she has learnt to manage her mind following career threatening throat surgery, powerfully reveals the full extent of her panic attacks and how falling in love with her husband, actor Daryl Sabara, helped with her own self-love…
Meghan Trainor has achieved more than her 19-year-old penning her break out hit, All About The Bass, could have ever dreamed of. The song in question topped the Billboard charts for eight consecutive weeks, she won a Grammy Award, two Billboard Music awards, played multiple sell-out international tours and went on to have three multi-platinum albums including her most recent, Treat Myself.
Your third album, Treat Myself is here! Who is Meghan Trainor 3.0?
She is older, wiser and I feel like I’ve learned so much about things I did not know about like anxiety as I understand that now. I’m very happy, I’m booked, and I’m blessed – that’s what I say all the time and I believe it! I have the love of my life who’s like number one and I’m super lucky and happy.
How do you think finding the love of your life has helped you with your mental wellbeing?
It’s crazy because when I was going through my (throat) surgery, I was just dating him. It was very early on during dating and I was like, “Okay so nice to get to know you. I have to be silent for a month and a half and I can’t tell you I love you back, but I can sign language, I can sign with you and I can type it out.” It was very frustrating if I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. I would just get so upset, then I would get in my head and think, “Oh I’m never going to be a singer ever again or I’ll never be able to write my songs and record them.” He watched me go through a dark, dark phase. And it was crazy cause I thought, “I got the love of my life, I have a beautiful home, I have a great career,” but I still went into this dark place of terror and I didn’t want to leave my house. It was super dark and I was just thinking, “It’s crazy because I’m happy but my body is crashing on me.” It turns out it was anxiety.
How long have you had this complex relationship with anxiety for?
My dad says, “You’ve always been a little worrier.” I’ve always said, “But dad, what if,” for my whole life I guess, but I never had the physical reactions. I always used to pick my skin off my fingers, have weird tics and wouldn’t be anxious. But I think it reached a peak when I had my second surgery, maybe three years ago, at the beginning of this album. I was having vibrations, or I’d be burning up and feel like I have a fever. Each day was a new thing. One day my back felt like it was on fire and I was like, “Oh man, I think I’m going crazy.” I went to the emergency room a couple of times and I was saying, “I’m allergic to this food and my throat is closing.” And they were like, “Oh sweetheart, it’s just your brain.” I would run to the bathroom and think, “Uh oh, I’m sick. I have the flu.” But really it was my body giving up and I had to fix the chemicals in my brain.
I went to every doctor I could asking for help, but the psychiatrist told me, “Your chemicals are off, you’re like this and we got to get you back to this.” That was the first thing that’s ever made sense to me. I went on medicine and I asked for a very low dose, it didn’t change me at all, except for helping my panic. I haven’t had a paid panic attack since. I think everyone has this little stigma against it, but my doctor said to me, “Why can you use an inhaler for your lungs, but you can’t use medicine for your brain?”
Have you learnt there’s a lot of power in talking and sharing about your experience?
I know for me I heard Carson Daly explain what happened to him in a panic attack. My parents haven’t really had one or they couldn’t really understand. They were like, “Don’t go to the emergency room, that’s so much money. Just come over here and we’ll rub your head.” Whereas I was saying, “I need an oxygen tank or I’m going to die tonight.” Carson Daly explained it perfectly, I sent that video to my mom, she was balling and was saying, “I didn’t know this is what you felt and now I understand.” You can’t explain what’s happening except for, “I’m dying, I’m dying. I’m pretty sure I’m dying.” So that was so helpful and made me not feel alone at all. People have this every single day in every kind of career, and this is what people are going through all around the world. He helped me so if I can speak up about it and tell people, so they don’t feel alone than, superb, I’m down to talk about it.
What does it feel like in that moment when you have a panic attack?
Death. We were on a boat the other night and we were all dizzy and I said to everyone around me, “this is the beginning of a panic attack.” For me what happens I lose my equilibrium, then my throat closes, then I’m certain that I can’t breathe, and I think, “This is how I’m going to die, right here, right now.” I remember in the very beginning when I would try to learn about it, I watched this video, and just hearing about it, I fell over and was in a full panic. I just triggered myself and then I learned you could trigger yourself. The world was a terrifying place and now I can talk about it.
I was trapped. I couldn’t sleep in my bedroom because that’s where I had panic attacks so I would change up my whole house and say, “We’re sleeping in here now because it’s a new day, a new room. I’m fine!” I had to help Daryl, my husband, I had to teach him and say, “Here’s what I need you to do in these moments. Just tell me that I’m breathing, that everything’s fine and rub my back and shut up.” He’s great now!
What has also helped you apart from the medicine?
I’m talking about it and my husband and I are trying to be very positive, we’re very grateful, and we used to write down five things we’re grateful for every day. He would also sing to me out of key, this terrible song we wrote that says, “We live the best life.” And we would try to sing it with each other and, yeah. So, I think having my best friend with me and my family with me everywhere I go is mandatory. My mom’s my assistant, so it’s great!
Do you think this experience has made you more grateful for the success that you’ve had?
It made me forgot about all of it, which was sad because there’s moments where I don’t feel successful. Most of the time I don’t feel successful and I don’t feel like I did it. Dr. Phil interviewed me, and he started with all the things I’ve accomplished, and I was like, “What? I forgot about all of that!” I’ve been stuck in right now, what am I doing right now and that’s not the point. I have to remember all the amazing moments that happened and realise why I get to do what I get to do and how lucky I am.
What do you think you learned about yourself in that period of your life where your anxiety was reaching a peak?
That I need to ask for more help and I need to speak up, because the schedule is crazy and not a lot of people see what your schedule is but everyday, we’re doing 12 hours and my voice can’t handle it. And I still had to get another surgery. I felt like I failed as an artist and as a person who loves myself. I feel like I failed myself because I pushed myself too far. I sang too many shows. I was doing radio shows after a whole tour and I needed surgery and I was like, “How did I get here again? It’s only been a year.” So, it was very depressing and very upsetting and my team, I feel like we all felt bummed like, “How do we not take care of this?” So, I have learned that I have limits. I need to stop. I need to take care of myself. I need to ask for more days off, which I’ve been doing.
With such hits as All About My Bass, you’ve become, for so many people, such as celebration of this much lauded term, self-love. How have you learned to love yourself?
It feels weird to champion yourself, but everyone should really be like, “go me!” I learned that I’m allowed to do that, and I’m allowed to say, “Hey, I need a break and I’m proud of myself and I’m awesome.” I’m just trying to get that message out of you’re allowed to love yourself, be your favourite person and be your best friend – that’s what DR. Phil told me. He said, “The way you talk about yourself, would you ever say those things to your best friend?” And I was like, “No, I would never say those things because they’re so mean. Oh my God, I’m so mean to myself! I’m my biggest bully.” You know when you’re in a room and you think everyone’s talking about you or your paranoid – it’s just you being your worst enemy.
What’s that been like for you to be able to let go of ‘bullying’ yourself?
It’s like a switch I have of, “I just don’t care what people think right now.” One of the most impossible things to do is to not care and I care about what everyone thinks. But sometimes instead of having social anxiety or wanting to curl up in a ball, leave early and cry, I now can say to myself, “No, I’m going to enjoy myself for these few hours and I’m going to shine.”
You said to me before, which stayed with me for a while afterwards, that at the beginning of your career you were dancing on stage, singing All About That Bass and everyone was screaming, “Yes honey, she’s feeling herself,” but inside you weren’t feeling yourself…
Yes, at the very beginning. I wrote that song because I wished I had a song like that on the radio, I really could have used it. I’ve been insecure my whole life and when I would perform it, the crowd would go wild. Especially when I did booty back – that was my moment. I had never danced in front of people or imagined shaking my butt in front of this entire crowd and they’re screaming it, praising it. It ended up being the best therapy I could have ever asked for.
How is your relationship with your body image and your self changed?
It’s great. We’re friends now. I’ve been taking care of it though. With my husband, we’re all about, “We want a sea of children. We want to live till we’re 120 years-old.” So, the goal is to live long and be healthy, so we work out and we try to eat as healthy as we can! Nicki Minaj the other day told me that she loved my butt and I was like that is the best compliment in the world. So, I’ve been very confident lately and if I talk about myself negatively in the mirror my husband usually will catch me and he will say, “Hey, stop that. You’re amazing. You’re gorgeous. Tell yourself.” And I’m like, “You’re amazing, you’re gorgeous,” in the mirror and it works!
If you could sit the you down who started off in this music industry at 19 years old across from you now, what would you want to say to her?
I would say, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be amazing. And even when it’s not amazing, something great will come out of that. Even when you feel really depressed and you got your second surgery, you’re going to have the love of your life there, rubbing your feet and making sure that you’re okay. Your family gets better and better, and they’ll all live around you very soon.” I was so alone at 19 years old. I didn’t get to have my family there.