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Jewel Was ‘Crippled’ by Agoraphobia

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Jewel might seem confident performing on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, or appearing on TV shows like ‘The Sing-Off’ or ‘Nashville Star,’ but it turns out, the singer has been fighting a personal battle that could have kept her completely out of the public eye.

Her rags-to-riches story, including spending a year as a homeless teen living in her car, is well known. But now the Alaska native admits she was also plagued by an anxiety disorder that made her intensely fearful of being around other people at the same time.

“By the time I was homeless, I was crippled by agoraphobia, which is hard when you don’t have a home, but in my car,” she admits to Huffington Post. “I was afraid if I left my car, I would be stricken with illness.”

The singer-songwriter worked hard to overcome the disorder, one day at a time.

“I really realized I was going to succumb unless I learned how to control my fear and I really focused on how to do that, how to change my thoughts,” she explains. “And it started with daily learning how to change my fear into excitement and into enthusiasm. That’s how I started to work myself out of my car.”

The married mother of one says it was her songwriting that helped her overcome her anxiety.

“I was writing about it,” she says.”Then I started singing in front of people and telling them my worst fears, and then my life changed because I started letting people — I felt less alone for the first time because I let myself be seen, really, for the first time — all my good, bad and ugly. And people accepted me because they felt seen, because we’re all the same.”

Her debut album, ‘Pieces of You,’ which was released when she was only 20 years old, sold 12 million copies.

Jewel is working on a new album that she says will be “pretty raw.” She released a Greatest Hits album last year, which is available for purchase here.

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