Ed Sheeran has revealed how his “very addictive personality” led him to binge on food and alcohol during the early days of his success.
Speaking at an online summit on anxiety and wellbeing, the star said he had suffered panic attacks and hated the way he looked after becoming famous.
He hit a particularly rough patch during his 2014-15 world tour.
“I felt, ‘What was the point?’ In a dark way, like, ‘Why am I around? What is the point?'” he said.
The star said credited his wife, Cherry, and a more healthy lifestyle for helping him turn his life around.
“She exercises a lot, so I started going on runs with her. She eats quite healthily so I started eating quite healthily. She doesn’t drink that much so I wasn’t drinking,” he said. “I think that all changed things.”
In a wide-ranging interview with documentary maker James Sebastiano, Jr, Sheeran also explained his current hiatus from music, and why he has taken up painting.
How touring affected his health
Sheeran said the 180-date world tour to promote his 2014 album X, was his lowest point.
“I would stay up and drink all night and then sleep on the bus,” he said. “The buses would park underneath the arenas and I’d sleep on the bus all day and then wake up and then come out, do the show, drink get back on the bus and I didn’t see sunlight for maybe four months.
“It’s all fun and games at the start. it’s all rock and roll, and then like it starts getting sad. That was probably like the lowest that I’ve been and I kind of ballooned in weight.”
“I’m covered in in tattoos and I don’t do things by half,” the star admitted, “so if I’m gonna drink… I see no point in having a glass of wine. I’d rather have two bottles”.
“Having a glass of wine is having something in moderation and probably isn’t going to affect your day the next day. But two bottles of wine probably might make you quite sad.”
But alcohol wasn’t the only problem.
“They used to call me two-dinner Teddy because I used to order two meals and eat that,,” he said. “Then you start putting on loads of weight and hating the way you look.
“I think things like sugar, sweet stuff, junk food, cocaine, alcohol, it feels good the more you do, but it’s the worst thing for you.”
How Elton John delivered a few home truths
Sheeran was signed to Elton John’s management company at the start of his career – and he said that reading his mentor’s autobiography had prompted a few realisations about his own lifestyle.
“There are so many things that he did that I do,” the star explained.
“He would be like, ‘I would just go on an ice cream binge and eat four desserts until I threw up’, and I was like, ‘I’ve done that before’.
“Or his martini binges, where he sees how many martinis he can drink. And I’m like, ‘I’ve done that before too’.
“With addiction, its very hard to moderate but moderation is the key.”
Taking a break from music
Sheeran had a number one album last year, with his No. 6 Collaborations Project, but he indicated he’d be stepping back from music for the rest of 2020.
“You can sense when the public are like, ‘We’ve had enough now,'” he said of the album’s reception. “One of the important things in the industry is to know when not only to give yourself a break, but to give the public a break.”
In the meantime, he’s taken up art.
“I was like, ‘I should probably try and find something else to give me happiness,'” he explained. “There’s only so many movies you can watch and packets of Monster Munch you can eat.
“So I basically bought 30 canvases and I painted a canvas a day for 30 days and it was really fun.”
He said his creations were in the style of abstract impressionist Jackson Pollock – “I just bought house paint and then I would just layer it up by flicking it” – but the public would never get to see them.
“I don’t sell my art. I just love doing it. No one else needs to judge.”