A lot goes on behind closed doors. In the April 2023 issue of Rolling Stone, Ed Sheeran spoke about spending much of 2022 dealing with grief and recovering from an eating disorder, despite all of his professional success. In the span of a year, the 32-year-old musician’s wife, Cherry Seaborn, underwent surgery to remove a tumor and his best friend, Jamal Edwards, died from cardiac arrhythmia. Sheeran also had to defend himself in a copyright lawsuit, which he later won. As the hits kept coming, Sheeran struggled to catch his breath.
“At the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art,” Sheeran said. “I’ve always had real lows in my life,” he added, “but it wasn’t really till last year that I actually addressed it.”
When another friend died later in the year, Australian cricket star Shane Warne, Sheeran’s mental health reached an all-time low. “I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore. And I have had that throughout my life,” he said. “You’re under the waves drowning. You’re just sort of in this thing. And you can’t get out of it.” Looking back, the dad of two said he felt a great deal of shame and embarrassment over his feelings at the time.
Sheeran started seeking therapy, which he found to be a novel treatment for his upbringing in the UK. “No one really talks about their feelings where I come from,” he said. “I think it’s very helpful to be able to speak with someone and just vent and not feel guilty about venting.”
While therapy allowed him to work through some of his grief, Sheeran knows it’s not a quick fix. “The help isn’t a button that is pressed, where you’re automatically OK,” Sheeran said. “It is something that will always be there and just has to be managed.”
“I’m a real binge eater. I’m a binge-everything.”
As part of his healing journey, Sheeran cut out substances and has continued to stay away from hard liquor. The latter was primarily motivated by the birth of his first child in 2020. “Two months before Lyra was born, Cherry said, ‘If my waters break, do you really want someone else to drive me to the hospital?'” he said. “Because I was just drinking a lot. And that’s when it clicked. I was like, ‘No, actually, I really don’t.’ And I don’t ever want to be pissed holding my kid. Ever, ever.”
Now, Sheeran is facing his relationship with food. “I’m self-conscious anyway, but you get into an industry where you’re getting compared to every other pop star,” he said. “I was in the One Direction wave, and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t I have a six pack?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, because you love kebabs and drink beer.’ Then you do songs with Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. All these people have fantastic figures. And I was always like, ‘Well, why am I so . . . fat?'”
Sheeran fell into a pattern of binge eating, saying he’d find himself “gorging, and then it would come up again.” He admitted his was a very real problem, and even now it’s difficult to speak about. “There’s certain things that, as a man talking about them, I feel mad uncomfortable. I know people are going to see it a type of way, but it’s good to be honest about them. Because so many people do the same thing and hide it as well.”
“I have a real eating problem,” Sheeran added. “I’m a real binge eater. I’m a binge-everything. But I’m now more of a binge exerciser, and a binge dad.”