Jewel Reveals How She Learned To Combat Anxiety, PTSD

By David Konow 04/04/17

The "You Meant Were Meant For Me" singer recounts dealing with her father's alcohol use disorder and PTSD in a recent interview. 


In 1995, upon the release of her debut album, Pieces of You, singer/songwriter Jewel became an overnight superstar, selling over 12 million copies—and the Alaska native has kept her career going strong ever since.

Although she hit the bullseye with her first album, she certainly didn’t have an easy road to the top. She grew up with an abusive alcoholic father, and was homeless for a spell before her ship finally came in.

As she reveals on an episode the ABC News podcast, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, at a young age she forced herself to go into “anecdotal thought” to combat anxiety.

“When I would have anxious feelings, I would retract the thought, I would see what the lie was, what my brain was telling me and I would tell myself the truth," she said. "And the truth was, I am capable of learning and I will learn more today, and that calmed my anxiety down.”

Jewel sang with her musician parents when she was a child, performing in bars since elementary school. “I watched how people handled pain. I watched people use relationships, drugs, alcohol to try to numb and medicate feelings,” the singer recounts.

She left home at age 15 because of her father’s abuse, but he’s currently sober and they’ve reconciled. (As the singer revealed to SF Gate, her father also suffered from PTSD after serving in Vietnam.)

“I knew statistically kids like me end up repeating the cycles that they're raised by,” the singer relates. “I knew statistically I was going to end up in a ditch or on a pole or on drugs or in an abusive relationship in short order, because that was the emotional language I was taught.”

Jewel first started getting panic attacks at the age of 16. In writing songs and poetry, Jewel found another way to deal with anxiety which “lessened every time I wrote … later as I developed this practice of writing, it was like having breadcrumbs back to my real self … I was always able to see the truth when I wrote.”

She also created her own personal visualization program when she meditates that helps reduce her anxiety as well.

“I imagined I was on a very stormy ocean. I’d imagine myself sinking through the ocean, allowing myself to relax, I would get calmer. I would notice the color of the ocean change. I’d notice the taste of salt on my lips. I’d notice the rays of sunlight coming in and the further I got down to the sandy floor, it got calm, it got tranquil by then, and I would look up at the stormy surface and it was in the distance.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.