In a candid new interview, singer Bruce Springsteen is bravely opening about his mental health struggles. While speaking with Esquire magazine during a sit-down to discuss his upcoming Netflix special, Springsteen On Broadway, Bruce revealed he suffered his first breakdown in 1982 and relies “on a variety of medications that keep me even keel” today at age 69.
“When I was a child, and into my teens. I felt like a very, very empty vessel. And it wasn’t until I began to fill it up with music that I began to feel my own personal power and my impact on my friends and the small world that I was in. I began to get some sense of myself. But it came out of a place of real emptiness… You have to put together a person from all the stuff that you’ve been handed,” Bruce began.
Bruce then explained that in 1982 — around the time he released his sixth album, Nebraska — while on a cross-country drive from New Jersey to LA, he stopped in a small Texas town where “an observer… away from the normal messiness of living and loving, reveals its cost to me.”
Though the rocker admitted he doesn’t know what exactly caused him to have a mental breakdown that night, the moment was likely built from many of his prior experiences. “All I know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier… much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher,” he shared.
Bruce also spoke out about how his complicated relationship with his father, Douglas Springsteen — who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia near the end of his life — affected his own mental health. “I have come close enough to [mental illness] where I know I am not completely well myself. I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel,” he said.
“Otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and… just… the wheels can come off a little bit. So we have to watch, in our family. I have to watch my kids, and I’ve been lucky there. It ran in my family going way before my dad,” Bruce added.