What’s Really Going On With Justin Bieber
It’s no secret that Justin Bieber has had a pretty tumultuous decade in the spotlight. The "Love Yourself" singer had to learn to do just that, as he struggled with the pressures and trappings of fame — and the demons that come with it. Starting out as a purple-loving Canadian kid singing "Baby" and growing into a man in front of the entire world (which couldn’t have been easy), he’s gone through everything from high-profile relationships (and breakups) with the likes of Selena Gomez to a whirlwind wedding with his now-wife Hailey Baldwin, and from a series of headline-making incidents and run-ins with the law in 2014 to some really severe physical and mental health issues. In 2017, the Biebs infamously bailed on part of his Purpose world tour, and announced in March 2019 that he was taking a break from music entirely.
As it turns out, much of the "Cold Water" crooner’s ongoing issues may have stemmed from something even more serious with which he struggled in secret for years before being properly diagnosed. Here’s what’s really been going on with Justin Bieber.
Justin Bieber bailed on his Purpose tour because he was exhausted
In July 2017, Justin Bieber announced that he was bailing on his Purpose world tour after 18 months, despite only just announcing the opening acts for the next leg in North America, which was scheduled to kick off only days later.
A source close to Bieber told People at the time that the singer was "super exhausted," and it had been showing in his performances: Bieber was criticized a lot at the time for lip-syncing and generally seeming to phone it in, and insiders close to him agreed that his heart (and thereby a lot of his effort) wasn’t in touring anymore at the time. "He didn’t feel like he could give the rest of the tour as much energy as his fans deserve," a friend of the singer told People. "He is a perfectionist and didn’t want to disappoint fans with some half-a** performance. He thinks his fans deserve and should expect the same performance at the end of the tour as in the beginning. He just didn’t have that passion right now. He is truly exhausted."
His pal added, "It’s a mental exhaustion that very few people understand … It’s a mature way of saying, ‘Sorry, I need to focus on my own health for a bit.’ It wasn’t an easy decision for him." That August, Bieber issued an admittedly "grammatically incorrect" (but adorable) apology to his fans on Instagram.
He turned to prayer to cope
Part of why Justin Bieber may have dropped off of his tour in 2017 was because he was too busy getting holy. A source told People, "He’s been going to church and has been hanging out with his church crew." Insiders connected with Bieber’s Hillsong Church, which also boasts ex Selena Gomez and wife Hailey Baldwin among its members, told TMZ that Bieber quit the Purpose world tour because his own life’s purpose became to serve God. Just weeks before the tour cancellation, he was captured on video at a Sydney, Australia Hillsong conference giving bizarre interviews. In between talking about Hillsong and worship, he avoided other questions by brushing his teeth, discussing his acne, and embracing his interviewer. Awkward.
TMZ reported at the time that multiple sources claimed that Bieber’s decision to bail on his Beliebers was because of his influence from Hillsong founder Carl Lentz, noting that Lentz had an "intense" relationship with Bieber. One insider said, "The church didn’t tell Justin to cancel the tour. He made his decision based on spiritual soul-searching and his own view of the path in life he should be taking." Another source griped, "He’s becoming the Tom Cruise of that church." For his part, Bieber denied that his religion had any say in his decision to cancel.
Justin Bieber struggled with sex addiction
In February 2019, Justin Bieber revealed that he had self-medicated his mental health struggles with substances and sex.
"I think sex can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes people have sex because they don’t feel good enough. Because they lack self-worth. Women do that, and guys do that," he confessed to Vogue, noting that his religious views contradicted his sexual behavior. Bieber added, "I found myself doing things that I was so ashamed of, being super-promiscuous and stuff, and I think I used Xanax because I was so ashamed. My mom always said to treat women with respect. For me that was always in my head while I was doing it, so I could never enjoy it. Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing." The singer-songwriter continued, "It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing."
At the time, Bieber revealed that while he had never been in rehab, he had thankfully stopped using drugs and turned to prayer to aid his recovery. He did admit, however, that he still drinks socially.
Inside his longtime battle with substance abuse
While Justin Bieber admitted in his 2019 Vogue profile that he abused Xanax as a means of self-medicating his mental health issues, it’s likely that the Canadian singer had been battling substance abuse issues for years.
Back in December 2015, Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, told The New York Times that for a period of time in 2013, Bieber desperately wanted to go on tour to promote his album, Journals, but Braun refused because he was deathly concerned with Bieber’s health and safety. "I was not going to let him work," Braun firmly said. "He wanted to tour, and I honestly at that time felt, if he toured, he could die." He didn’t expound on exactly what might have killed Bieber if he went on tour, but added, "The outsiders don’t really know what was happening. It was far worse than people realize. And when he is ready, he will tell you what he was going through."
In September 2019, Bieber posted on Instagram about using "heavy drugs" when he was 19 to try to cope with his struggles with fame and responsibility, explaining that the "dopamine rush" from performing can trigger "massive ups and downs" for entertainers, which are "very hard to manage," and may be the reason why many turn to drugs.
Justin Bieber’s inner circle was accused of being enablers
During his troubled 2014, sources close to Justin Bieber told People that his team wasn’t reining him in when he behaved badly. "Everybody around him has been telling him he can do what he wants and he has no limitations," an insider claimed, while another griped, "He acts as though he’s never heard the word ‘no.’"
Five years later, Bieber shed some light on these rumors when he took to Instagram and explained how his stratospheric rise to fame at such a young age came at the expense of him simply being able to grow up and learn how to adult. "I went from a 13-year-old boy from a small town to being praised left and right by the world, with millions saying how much they loved me and how great I was. You hear these things enough as a young boy and you actually start believing it," he wrote in part, adding, "Everyone did everything for me, so I never even learned the fundamentals of responsibility."
Bieber also touched on how difficult it was to adjust, especially considering how his relationship with his parents, Pattie Mallette and Jeremy Bieber, was somewhat fraught by his being the family breadwinner — and how his parents’ divorcing when he was young was still something that affected him.
His quickie marriage to Hailey Baldwin wasn’t all roses
Just two months after Justin Bieber and ex Selena Gomez split seemingly for good (we say "seemingly" because, well, who knows with those two?), he shacked up with another on-again, off-again ex, Hailey Baldwin.
They tied the knot in the fall of 2018 after a whirlwind courtship and engagement, and, by February 2019, already admitted they were in marriage counseling. With Baldwin telling Vogue that marriage is "really effing hard," and Bieber confessing that he has trust issues, the pair revealed that cohabiting wasn’t easy and that they were practicing communicating in a healthy way. Bieber described himself in the cover story as "the emotionally unstable one" in their partnership, and revealed that what he seeks in Baldwin is a sense of stability he never had growing up, especially in the spotlight.
"I’ve always wanted security — with my dad being gone sometimes when I was a kid, with being on the road. With the lifestyle I live, everything is so uncertain," Bieber explained. "I need one thing that’s certain. And that is my baby boo."
Justin Bieber confronted online trolls
In May 2016, Justin Bieber announced his refusal to pose for selfies with fans ever again. "If you happen to see me out somewhere, know that I’m not gonna take a picture," he wrote on Instagram, adding, "It has gotten to the point that people won’t even say hi to me or recognize me as a human. I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to keep my sanity … I don’t owe anybody a picture." That August, JBiebs quit Instagram briefly after a very public feud with ex Selena Gomez. A couple months later, several shows ended badly when he asked Beliebers to stop shouting and stormed offstage.
Bieber continued setting boundaries when a follower commented on Instagram (via Elite Daily) in 2019, "You are NOT in love with Hailey! You only married her to get back at SG." He replied in part, "Why would I dedicate my whole life to someone in marriage to get back [at] my ex, anyone who believes this is mean spirited or ten years old or younger because a logical person doesn’t talk or think this way u should be ashamed of yourself really." Bieber added, "I absolutely loved and love Selena she will always hold a place in my heart, but I am head over [heels] in love with my wife and she is absolutely the BEST THING that has happened to me period."
The singer encouraged his Beliebers to share the missive.
Bieber’s battle with Lyme disease and other health issues
Following a TMZ report in January 2020, Justin Bieber revealed in a since-deleted Instagram post (via BBC News) that he’d been diagnosed with Lyme disease, as well as chronic mono. WebMD notes that the symptoms of Lyme disease can include joint pain, fatigue, headache, fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes, and can escalate to rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, shooting pains and numbness in extremities, rashes, and loss of muscle tone. According to Healthline, chronic mono — often called Epstein-Barr virus or chronic fatigue syndrome — shares many of the same symptoms, including (obviously) fatigue and sore throat.
Noting on Instagram that his illnesses "affected [his] skin, brain function, energy, and overall health," Bieber revealed in a documentary at the time that he was also battling a deep depression, which turned out to be in result of his condition. Doctors had a hard time diagnosing him, which is partly why his above-mentioned issues continued and seemed to exacerbate over time.
In October 2019, Bieber had revealed his "worst news ever": that he’s allergic to gluten. In an Instagram Story (via The Blast), he wrote that he could no longer drink his favorite beer, Corona, but was a fan of the gluten-free brew, Omission. The following January, JBiebs was spotted at a Queens, N.Y., pizzeria requesting gluten-free pizza.
We love to see Bieber putting his health first on all fronts.