It's been over a decade since the 37-year-old pop icon experienced a very public breakdown, which launched into speculation over her emotional well being. It was reported that Spears was suffering from bipolar disorder following her 2008 hospitalization, but never confirmed by the singer. However, she has been open about battling anxiety and how not getting help in her 20s lead her to an unhealthy space.
"From an early age I always felt that everyone was testing me. If [something] was not in place, it would have been enough to get me to this point of anxiety," Spears reflected in a 2017 interview with Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. I could get overwhelmed by a lot of very small, disproportionate things."
She added, "I think I had to give myself more breaks through my career and take responsibility for my mental health."
Spears said that in her 20s, there were plenty of decisions made for her that she wouldn’t have necessarily made for herself. When the journalist described her as being "overprotected" during that time period, she agreed.
“My life was controlled by too many people and that doesn’t really let you be yourself,” she explained. “In that situation, when you’re not in control, you become less excited, and there’s less passion when it comes to music. I wrote back then that I was lost and didn’t know what to do with myself. I was trying to please everyone around me because that’s who I am deep inside. There are moments where I look back and think: ‘What the hell was I thinking?'”
“I think I had fun when I was younger,” she added. “I was a pretty normal girl, a tomboy. But my 20s were awful. My 30s are much better for me. I’ve learned to get to know myself better.”
She called that awful period her "toughest years,” adding, "Deep inside I wish to be very private, which I believe I am. All this fame is way too much for me, as it’s really hard to grasp its magnitude. When you’re young and in the beginning of your career it’s understandable that you’ve just stepped into this world.”
“I have these moments where I just want to dress up like a normal person and walk in the street. It goes through my mind quite a lot,” she explained.
In another interview with Marie Claire U.K., Spears remembered how being "under scrutiny" also contributed to her anxiety issues.
"If a hair was out of place, I'd be so anxious. I would get very anxious about so many things," she explained in the 2016 sit-down, saying that feeling would still creep into her personal life.
“I had a really bad date. I mean, it was really bad. I’ve been single for ages and had a date with a guy I liked," she recalled. “I was getting anxious, worrying he wouldn’t like me. In the evening I got on the scales and I had lost six pounds.”
Spears credited motherhood with helping conquer her anxiety.
“Becoming a mother and being with my boys [Sean Preston, 13, Jayden, 12] has made me so much more accepting of myself," she stated. "That has been a really big thing for me over these last few years."
The "...Baby One More Time" singer reportedly checked herself into a facility one week ago to focus on her mental health. Spears has apparently been under a lot of stress over her father's life-threatening illness. With Jamie Spears recovering from his second colon surgery, she still has a good support system around her during the difficult time.
Spears's mother, Lynne, shared an encouraging post about fighting depression. The singer's boyfriend, Sam Asghari, posted on social media after the reports surfaced Wednesday.
As for the singer's sons, they are in the custody of their father, Kevin Federline.
"Kevin commends Britney for recognizing that she needs to take a step back and that she is taking the reasonable steps to deal with her situation in a responsible way," his attorney said in a statement.
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