John Mayer is opening up about his experience with anxiety.
The 45-year-old musician was asked about an experience that shaped him, yet few people know about, during an interview on the Call Her Daddy podcast. "Anxiety," he shared before reflecting on how it has impacted him.
"Anxiety before there was a social media that could tell you what anxiety was. Not to say it makes it any easier, but anxiety feeds off of feeling isolated by it and so it's a little bit easier now when you can read other people's experiences and go, 'Oh, OK,'" he explained. "I mean, having anxiety in mid ’90s, late ’90s was like, you think you're going crazy. So that, to me, gave me so much more depth."
He described his own anxiety as "feelings of panic" or feeling like "the walls are closing in." He also said that those feelings came with questions. "'Why can't I sleep?' 'What’s going on in the universe?' 'What's going on in my body?' [It] turns into hypochondria. 'Is my heart beating faster? Is my throat closing? Why do I feel my pulse in my ear?' You know, you're on WebMD looking up everything. And whatever that is also makes you super keyed into yourself."
While experiencing anxiety was difficult for Mayer, he credited it for some of his masterful lyrics.
"A lot of my music came from wanting answers after feeling really, really lost because I lost my way just in my head. It got to the point where when I would have an anxious moment, I'd be like, 'Well, here comes a song,'" he said.
Mayer assured listeners that he's "never tried to induce an experience just to write a song," however, his first three records are "about managing anxiety."
"'Why Georgia?' Why am I f***ing here? Am I living it right? Why am I here?" he went on. "There's a song 'Not Myself' on the first record. ... That's all about having a panic attack in front of somebody," which again, was a very real experience for him.
"I was going on a date in my senior year in high school with one of the prettiest girls, couldn't believe that I'd gotten to the point where this girl wanted to go to the movies with me. I didn't drive until I was out of high school so I was riding shotgun. So right there, I'm being driven by the girl I'm going on the date with. By the time we got to the movie theater, and I was eating like Tums because I had such bad nervous stomach — this was before like you figured out benzodiazepines — and I was eating Tums, stomachache, and before we even got out of the car I was like, 'I have a stomachache, can you drive me home?' And she drove me all the way home and I got home. And as soon as I got home I was like, 'Ah.' I'm deeply uncomfortable in a lot of situations,'" he said, explaining his early recognition of his struggle. "And so, for a really long time I would resist going out with anybody because it would make me so nervous that my stomach, I would just, it would be terrible."
Although he's gotten good songs out of the relationships and deep feelings that have transpired during his years in the spotlight since, Mayer admitted that the anxiety of many of his earlier experiences wasn't worth the success that his artful expression brought him.
"I would have, absolutely in those moments as a 20, 21, 22, 23-year-old guy, traded every song I was going to write to not have that feeling. No doubt about it," he said. "Take all the songs I'll ever write, stop this feeling from happening right now."
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