At age 24, Justin Bieber decided to get serious.
Sober for maybe the first time in his adult life, he made good on that goal “to be married by 25” as he had once put it to WWD, sealing his forever with somewhat spontaneous courthouse vows. He also truly dedicated himself to treating his ongoing anxiety and depression, starting a regimen of anti-depressants, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and appointments with a brain disorder specialist.
But it wasn’t until he flipped the calendar last March, new bride Hailey Bieber at his side and promising progress happening in his therapy sessions, that he decided he was ready to talk about all of it.
“He has gone through so much in the last three, four years since his last album came out,” Hailey has said of 2015’s Purpose, “and he came out on the other side of some really dark times. He still is who he is and that’s why people are drawn to him because he has a story to tell.”
His current medium is his YouTube Originals docu-series, Justin Bieber: Seasons, a 10-episode event that has seen the Grammy winner lay bare his struggle with drugs, mental health and his reckless actions as a twentysomething with endless cash and little oversight.
But one could argue he’s been gearing up for this type of reveal all year long, letting his fans in little by little starting with the Vogue cover interview he did with his new wife just ahead of his birthday last March.
There, the newlyweds admitted they were experiencing more than just a honeymoon stage in their nascent marriage. “We’re coming from a really genuine place. But we’re two young people who are learning as we go,” the 23-year-old model and television host shared. “I’m not going to sit here and lie and say it’s all a magical fantasy. It’s always going to be hard. It’s a choice. You don’t feel it every single day. You don’t wake up every day saying, ‘I’m absolutely so in love and you are perfect.’ That’s not what being married is. But there’s something beautiful about it anyway—about wanting to fight for something, commit to building with someone.'”
Part of that fight, her husband shared, has been working out their differing personalities and communication styles. “Fighting is good,” he said. “Doesn’t the Bible talk about righteous anger? We don’t want to lose each other. We don’t want to say the wrong thing, and so we’ve been struggling with not expressing our emotions, which has been driving me absolutely crazy because I just need to express myself, and it’s been really difficult to get her to say what she feels.”
It was a careful balancing act that they were beginning to master. “I’m the emotionally unstable one,” he explained. “I struggle with finding peace. I just feel like I care so much and I want things to be so good and I want people to like me. Hailey’s very logical and structured, which I need.”
Clearly the confessions provided a release of sorts, with Bieber continuing to peel back the curtain.
In a September Instagram he shared how he “started doing pretty heavy drugs at 19 and abused all of my relationships,” becoming “resentful, disrespectful to women, and angry,” setting the stage for what he would share in Seasons.
On Losing Himself
“I was real at first,” he told Vogue last year, “and then I was manufactured as, slowly, they just took more and more control.” At 16 with a fanbase of adoring young girls, “I started really feeling myself too much. People love me, I’m the s–t—that’s honestly what I thought. I got very arrogant and cocky. I was wearing sunglasses inside.”
The Dark Years
For a stretch between 2013 and 2014, a 19-year-old Bieber, outfitted with a $1.2 million car collection, his own six-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot digs and an entourage eager to encourage his worst impulses, egged a neighbor’s house in Calabasas, hot-boxed his private jet, drunkenly peed into a mop bucket and earned himself a DUI while drag racing his Lamborghini in Miami as the world lamented over what had happened to the precociously talented teen with the undeniable charm and sweet lyrics about first loves.
“I started valuing the wrong things in this business, because there was things dangling in front of me,” he said on his YouTube Originals docu-series, Justin Bieber: Seasons. “If I get this, I’ll be happy. If I do this, I’ll be happy. These are things that I think a lot of people with secure households learn at a young age. I never heard that security in a family. I never had that consistency. I never had the reliability and the accountability.”
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On His Drug Use
Smoking marijuana for the first time at 13, he became “dependent” on it over the next several years, his substance abuse steadily becoming more serious. “There was a time when I was sipping lean, popping pills, doing Molly, shrooms, everything,” he shared in “The Dark Season” episode. “I was young, like everybody in the industry and people in the world who experiment and do normal, growing up things. But my experience was in front of cameras and I had a different level of exposure. I had a lot of money and a lot of things.”
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Hitting Rock Bottom
His decision to get clean came after more than a few frightening evenings. “My security would come into my room at night to check my pulse,” he shared in his docu-series. “People don’t know how serious it got. It was legit crazy, scary. I was waking up in the morning and the first thing I was doing was popping pills and smoking a blunt and starting my day. It just got scary.”
His Fears About Settling Down
While he was confident about Hailey’s answer to his 2018 proposal, he copped to having more than a few anxieties before kneeling down on that Caribbean beach. “I felt, like, in the past, we talked about, you know, me asking the question and it felt like she would say yes. So, I wasn’t really nervous about the saying yes,” he said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in January, “but the thing is just, like, I think I was more nervous about, ‘Am I going to make this commitment? Am I able to make this commitment as a man and be able to honor, you know, what I say?'”
He battled with it, he continued, “But I finally was like, ‘I’m gonna make the decision and follow through with it and be a husband and, you know, this is what I’ve always wanted. I’m gonna choose this woman and just do it.'”
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Talking About Sex, Baby
Asked during a performance at London’s Indigo at The O2 how he spends a day off, the “Yummy” singer responded cheekily, “It just depends who I’m with. When I’m with my wife, we like to….You guys can guess what we do. It’s gets pretty crazy…that’s pretty much all we do.”
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On Returning to the Stage
No doubt he was nervous about joining Ariana Grande during her 2019 Coachella set. “I think we all, as humans, get caught up in this, you know, place of fear. You know, just whatever we’re dealing with, we’re all dealing with fear in some degree. And in that place in my life, I was just battling a lot of stuff internally,” he explained to DeGeneres in January. “And so, I was just afraid. I was afraid of, you know, what people were thinking. I was afraid of, you know, ‘Can I do this again?'”
The eager crowd response was met with relief. “It was like, ‘Okay,'” he said in a February appearance on Apple Music’s Beats 1. “It gave me kind of, like, a boost of confidence and reminded me—’cause it’d been so long since I’d been on stage—just kind of reminded me what…’Oh, this is what I do. This is what I’m good at. And I don’t need to run away from it.'”
On His Shocking Diagnosis
With the release of his YouTube effort, Bieber was ready to put out some other news. “While a lot of people kept saying justin Bieber looks like s–t, on meth etc. they failed to realize I’ve been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my, skin, brain function, energy, and overall health,” he wrote in a January Instagram post.
He shared more about his treatment, including NAD IV therapy, in Seasons. “I’m committed to getting better and committed to doing whatever I have to do, whether it’s inconvenient or not, because I know ultimately it’s not only for me,” he said. “Being the best me is gonna help me be the best husband, the best father, the best friend that I can possibly be.”
The Wisdom He’d Share With Others
“Sometimes when life throws you things you can’t control, your natural attitude is to be upset or to be disappointed or discouraged,” he noted in his docu-series. He’s learned, though, how key it is to “fight through those feelings, that are just feelings at the end of the day,” and take that first step, whether it’s tackling the next project or simply getting out of bed.
“I know a lot of people feel that same way, so I just want to say you’re not alone,” he shared. “There’s people that are going through it with you. Life is worth living. If you’re not gonna give up, the only thing to do is push forward.”
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