Kesha Writes Inspiring Holiday Essay About Mental Health

By Paul Fuhr 12/05/17

“Don’t ask yourself things like ‘It’s almost Christmas, why am I not happy?’ That can turn into a shame cycle.”

The holidays can disrupt your routine.

Singer Kesha penned a disarmingly honest essay for Time that examines how to navigate holiday stress without sacrificing your own personal well-being.

“It’s not your responsibility to try to make the whole world happy,” the “Learn to Let Go” songstress cautions, noting that many people set unrealistic expectations for themselves around the holidays. “Don’t ask yourself things like ‘It’s almost Christmas, why am I not happy?’ That can turn into a shame cycle.”

As she acknowledges, the holidays aren’t necessarily fun for the millions of people out there who routinely struggle with depression, addiction, anxiety, and other mental health issues. In order to survive the holidays, Kesha suggests following her own personal mantra: “It’s not selfish to take time for yourself.”

The Time essay caps off an incredibly successful year for the 30-year-old singer, who’s been enjoying widespread acclaim for her album Rainbow. The record, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, also nabbed Kesha her very first two Grammy nominations. Many critics applauded her willingness to tackle Rainbow’s dark subject matter: a contentious court battle with producer Dr. Luke Gottwald, whom she’s accused of sexual and physical abuse.

“Unashamedly referencing the court case and what she’s been through, there’s only one person this song can be about,” one critic commented on the ballad “Praying.” That very same bravery is evident in Kesha’s Time essay, where she discusses how to cope with mental health during the holidays.

Kesha’s essay is part of a larger Time initiative (in concert with OptionB.Org) to solicit essays from influential people like Patton Oswalt and Robin Roberts who’ve struggled through the holidays. Between her heartfelt essay and the raw, honest lyrics on display in Rainbow, Kesha is no stranger to laying painful truths out for others to see.

In fact, in a Rolling Stone cover story, the singer opened up about a debilitating eating disorder that nearly cost her everything. As her career skyrocketed, so did her body issues. “The worse I got and the sicker I got, the better a lot of people around me were saying that I looked,” she told Rolling Stone. “They would just be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, keep doing whatever you’re doing! You look so beautiful, so stunning.'”

She eventually landed in rehab in 2014, where she (quite literally) had to learn how to eat again. Shortly after, she received a call from a friend who congratulated her for finding recovery. “I just was blown away by that, because it made me look at the whole thing totally differently,” Kesha told Rolling Stone. “Oh, wait. I did just take my life into my own hands and choose life over a slow, painful, shameful self-imposed death. And I need to stop just being so fucking mean to myself.”

Ultimately, the experience rattled Kesha as much as it helped her recover. And now, she’s open and honest in ways that continue to surprise her and her fans.

In her Time essay, she reflects on how routines help her get by—something that the holidays are almost designed to disrupt. “When you have a routine, it’s easier to manage whatever mental struggles you may be faced with, and when that routine is broken, it can trigger things you may not be ready to face,” she observed.

“I know it has for me. It was during the holidays when I hit a low moment and with the help of my mother decided to seek help for my eating disorder.” Regardless, her journey to recovery should help Kesha see herself in a song lyric from “Praying”: “I'm proud of who I am.”

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.