By Pat Anson, PNN Editor
Lady Gaga isn’t the only celebrity speaking out about her battle with chronic pain and illness.
Pop star Avril Lavigne has released a new album called “Head Above Water” that was inspired by her battle with Lyme disease -- a bacterial infection usually spread by ticks that can lead to severe pain and chronic fatigue if it’s not treated and diagnosed early.
That’s what happened to Lavigne, who thought she just had the flu when she started having symptoms in 2014. It took several months for her to get a correct diagnosis.
“I was seeing every specialist, literally the top doctors, and they would pull up their computer and (say) ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome’ or “Why don’t you try to get out of bed Avril and just go play the piano? Are you depressed?’” Lavigne said in an emotional interview on Good Morning America.
“This is what they do to a lot of people that have Lyme disease. They don’t have an answer for them, so they tell them they’re crazy.”
The 33-year old singer eventually found a Lyme specialist who diagnosed her correctly. By then she was bedridden.
“One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning,” Lavigne wrote on her website.
“Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.”
Although the single “Head Above Water” is about Lyme disease, anyone bedridden or housebound by chronic pain or illness can probably relate to it.
Lavigne went public about her battle with Lyme disease in 2015, but it was another two years before she was well enough to sit at a piano and started composing music again.
“I fought Lyme disease on antibiotics and herbs for two years. I tried to have a life, but was in bed the majority of the time, and it was very up and down with good days and bad days,” Lavigne explained.
“When you’re in bed for the better part of two years, you lose muscle mass and your entire body gets weak. I’ve had to work to get my endurance up. ‘Head Above Water’ was the first song that I sang. I was fresh off not singing for two years. I thought my voice would be weak, it ended up being stronger than ever. The break happened to actually be good for my vocal cords.”
“Head Above Water” is the sixth album for the Canadian born singer, who has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. Her single “Girlfriend” was the first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube. Her foundation – the Avril Lavigne Foundation – raises awareness and supports people with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses.