Joe Jonas is opening up about why he started therapy, sharing that the response to his solo album Fastlife led him to a dark place.
The 33-year-old Jonas Brothers band member appeared on Jay Shetty’s On Purpose podcast where the singer talked about his journey with mental health. While reflecting on how he’s integrated therapy and meditation into his life, Jonas revealed how he was encouraged to seek help back in 2011 when he began to internalize criticism of his music.
“I had about a year and a half to really focus in on this album called Fastlife and I was here in New York after the album was out and it didn’t really do much and [I] started reading reviews, started seeing reactions and it hit me like a ton of bricks,” he told Shetty. “I started feeling like physically ill and I really told myself and I believed that I was sick.”
Following the success of the Jonas Brothers, Jonas explained that he had believed “anything we touch is going to take off,” providing him with high expectations of his solo endeavor. When that album didn’t live up to that expectation, he began to spiral.
“I started going to the doctor like every other week and then it became like every week and it was almost like a joke with my friends. We’re like, ‘Oh Sunday funday, Joe’s going to the hospital again to get a check-up.’ And I would do like full body check-ups,” he explained. “I would do ultrasounds on my stomach. It became a thing where like it was comical because I’m a hypochondriac, I’m just overthinking these symptoms or creating these in my mind.”
He recalled his doctor showing him a collection of test results and pointing out that nothing was physically wrong with him.
“You’re in great health but obviously there’s something going on,” Jonas, who was 22 years old at the time, was told. “One doctor finally just said to me, ‘Have you thought or spoken to a therapist?’ And I was like ‘Me? No. Why would I ever need therapy? Life is great.’ And it kind of just hit me after I left and I was like, ‘Oh my god, maybe they’re right.'”
Jonas started to consider his other behaviors at the time and talked about going on day-long bike rides to avoid any problems or anxiety that he was facing. “I’d go on these bike journeys and I would ride my bike from like eight in the morning to eight at night and stop along the way, but it was like an escape for me and I wasn’t able to look at my phone, I wasn’t able to think about the album. I was kind of just checking out,” he said. “The minute I got off the bike, I’m feeling sick again.”
Finally, he took the opportunity to confront those problems with therapy.
“I started talking to a therapist and really dove into all of that pain and trauma that I’ve created for myself and it was weird that it stemmed from something as simple as, ‘Oh, the album didn’t do as well as I thought.’ Which you think like it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but I think in my brain I was pushing myself so hard and I had these expectations really set high,” he said. “It took a long time to come to that realization. Those trend words flash in your brain, like I saw a headline like ‘failure,’ and I took that word and that was my identity with that album.”
By exploring those emotions, Jonas was able to get back in touch with his motivation for creating solo music, which was to take a leap of faith and do something for himself. However, he explained to Shetty that it wasn’t the only time he’d have to combat his ego or unrealistic expectations throughout his career.
“There’s been definitely times I feel like I’ve been affected by the feeling of being on stage and feeling larger than life at times. This feeling is like, the only way to put it is like the quarterback that wins the high school football game, like we’re doing it every night on stage, that energy,” Jonas explained. “It’s trippy. And it definitely can affect you and also make you feel out of touch with reality at times.”
Luckily, he had his brothers to credit for keeping him grounded during the height of Jonas Brothers fame and has since learned to find “my own happiness outside of the brothers, outside of music, outside of film or TV just like on my own personal front,” he says, which now includes being a husband to Sophie Turner and father to their two children. “Now in my life I just work really hard so I can be home more. … [I’m] just incredibly grateful to be a dad. It’s an amazing feeling.”
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