Julia Michaels is an open book when it comes to her issues with mental health.
Last week, the pop star, 25, released her new single ‘Anxiety,’ which is a raw depiction of mental illness.
On the song, which features pal Selena Gomez, Michaels gets brutally honest, with lyrics like: “My friends they wanna take me to the movies / I tell ’em to f— off, I’m holdin’ hands with my depression / And right when I think I’ve overcome it, anxiety starts kicking in to teach that s— a lesson … All my friends they don’t know what it’s like.”
The “Issues” singer opened up about her new music and managing her mental health in the new issue of PEOPLE.
A Davenport, Iowa, native, Michaels rose to fame in 2017 with her breakout smash “Issues,” after writing a handful of hits for A-list artists, from Justin Bieber and Britney Spears to Hailee Steinfeld and Selena Gomez. But last year, the musician revealed she’s been battling since she was 18, when she signed her first publishing deal.
Today, Michaels is in a better place.
“I went to therapy. Talking to friends really helps. Also rationalizing with myself. I think, ‘Okay, why do I feel like this?’ and try to link it to something,” she says of dealing with her anxiety.
Michaels tells PEOPLE it’s important to use her platform to share her struggles.
“A lot of people feel like a burden when they talk about their problems or like they have to suppress it. It’s important for people to know they’re not alone,” says Michaels.
So it was important for the Grammy-nominated star to get real about anxiety on her new EP, Inner Monologue, Pt. 1..
“It’s always scary when you’re talking about the fact that you’re flawed. But my fanbase is pretty open, and that’s a big thing for us — feeling connected and feeling heard,” Michaels says.
And Michaels found the perfect duet partner in Gomez, whom she’s known for years (and has cowritten 11 songs for).
“I’ve always been a big fan of hers, and we’ve done a lot of things together, and I always wanted to do a song with her,” Michaels says. “She’s just a brave and beautiful person, inside and out.”
Michaels adds: “When I wrote this song, I just thought: It would be really cool to have not only me but to have another woman on this song, just another perspective. It’s not so much a female empowerment song, but empowering in the sense that it’s two people that actually, truly deal with this on a daily basis; you know, it’s not a lie. I thought that this song in particular would be perfect for both of us, so we could do it together.”
Gomez agrees, and posted her thoughts on Instagram following the song’s release. “My sweet soul sister. Julia you have been a huge part of my life. You have taught me how to have courage when I have self doubt. This song is extremely close to my heart as I’ve experienced anxiety and know a lot of my friends do too,” she wrote of “Anxiety.”
“You’re never alone if you feel this way. The message is much needed and I really hope you guys like it!”