First Comes Marriage and Mental Health, Then Comes Music: How Justin Bieber Is Returning to the Stage on His Own Terms

The 25-year-old singer teamed with longtime friend and "Love Yourself" collaborator Ed Sheeran for "I Don't Care," which dropped on Friday

By Tierney Bricker May 10, 2019 6:00 PMTags
Watch: Justin Bieber Opens Up Further About Fear & Anxiety

Justin Bieber is ready. 

The 25-year-old singer partnered with longtime friend Ed Sheeran to release a new single on Friday that is already a contender to be the song of summer 2019, a pop song with a message near and dear to Bieber's heart.

"I Don't Care" comes on the heels of a transformative time for Bieber, who has become more vocal about his struggles with fear, anxiety and mental health issues after becoming the most famous pop star in the world when he was just 13. 

The track re-teams the duo, who collaborated on the 2015 hit single "Love Yourself," professionally, continuing Bieber's recent trend of slowly-but-surely returning to the music scene with the support of friends like Sheeran and Ariana Grande

While "I Don't Care" is a Sheeran single featuring Bieber, it seems serve as the professional culmination of the internal work Bieber has been doing, with the support of his wife Hailey Bieber, whom the song's lyrics seem to be inspired by, along with Sheeran's wife, Cherry Seaborn

Justin Bieber's Best Looks

"You're making me feel like I'm loved by somebody," one of the lines from the song reads, which Bieber has openly admitted to struggling to accept, writing on Instagram earlier this month, "I havent believed the truth about myself I haven't believed I am loved."


As Bieber has continued to show his dedicated fans that being open about your mental health is "cool," sharing his therapy sessions and asking his Instagram followers to "pray" for him, Hailey, his "rock," has been "doing whatever she can to help" and going with him to "appointments and meetings," a source told E! News

While Bieber focused on his mental health, his fans were anxiously awaiting new music from the "Love Yourself" singer, who finally seems ready—emotionally and mentally—to return to the stage and spotlight almost four years after releasing his last solo album, something that seemed unlikely just two months ago. 


Bieber took to Instagram in March to let his fans know that he was putting his album on the back-burner as he focused on his mental health and revealed just how much he struggled during his Purpose World Tour in 2016. 

"So I read a lot of messages saying you want an album," he began his post. "I've toured my whole teenage life, and early 20s, I realized and as you guys probably saw I was unhappy last tour and I don't deserve that and you don't deserve that, you pay money to come and have a lively energetic fun light concert and I was unable emotionally to give you that near the end of the tour."

He continued, "I have been looking, seeking, trial and error as most of us do, I am now very focused on repairing some of the deep rooted issues that I have as most of us have, so that I don't fall apart, so that I can sustain my marriAge and be the father I want to be. Music is very important to me but Nothing comes before my family and my health."

Still, he assured his devoted fans that their patience would be rewarded, saying, "I will come with a kick ass album ASAP, my swag is undeniable and my drive is indescribable his love is supernatural his grace is that reliable.... the top is where is reside period weather I make music or not the king said so...But I will come with a vengeance believe that."

And he is doing it, just with his trusted support system in tow. 


Prior to Bieber's message, a source had told E! News that he was "battling depression" and was having a "difficult time." This time around, however, he was being open about his struggles, with the source adding he had "been seeking all the help he can get."

That help included outpatient therapy and regular therapy sessions, which he sometimes shared on social media, as well as leaning on his wife, Hailey, and his pastors, as he continued to work through his internal struggles, which he openly discussed in a shockingly candid interview with Vogue in February

A global phenomenon before he even had his learner's permit, Bieber admitted he's never really had a chance to discover who he is outside of Justin Bieber, the uber-successful pop star. 

"Just thinking about music stresses me out," he said. "I've been successful since I was thirteen, so I didn't really have a chance to find who I was apart from what I did. I just needed some time to evaluate myself: who I am, what I want out of my life, my relationships, who I want to be—stuff that when you're so immersed in the music business you kind of lose sight of."

Discovered by manager Scooter Braun and Usher when he was just a 12-year-old kid from Canada posting videos on YouTube, Bieber's rise to fame was immediate and intense, with the singer admitting he eventually began to believe his own hype, caring less about the music and more about the lifestyle. 

"I was real at first," he said, "and then I was manufactured as, slowly, they just took more and more control. I started really feeling myself too much. People love me, I'm the shit—that's honestly what I thought. I got very arrogant and cocky. I was wearing sunglasses inside."

Look no further than the Bieber's first verse of "I Don't Care" for further proof of the lack of control he felt. 

"With all these people all around, I'm crippled with anxiety / But I'm told it's where we're s'posed to be / You know what? It's kinda crazy 'cause I really don't mind / And you make it better like that."

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It's rare insight into the isolated life of a young superstar, who becomes responsible for maintaining an entire brand and staff of people, while also having the world at your finger-tips. "No" isn't a word Bieber heard often, as he was surrounded by people he believed were trying to use him. 

"It's been so hard for me to trust people," he explained in the Vogue profile. "I've struggled with the feeling that people are using me or aren't really there for of the big things for me is trusting myself. I've made some bad decisions personally, and in relationships. Those mistakes have affected my confidence in my judgment."

Those mistakes, of course, have been well-documented, as Bieber's acts of teenage rebellion played out in the headlines. But he revealed that behind-closed-doors things were even more dire than people knew. 

"I found myself doing things that I was so ashamed of, being super-promiscuous and stuff, and I think I used Xanax because I was so ashamed," he said. "My mom always said to treat women with respect. For me that was always in my head while I was doing it, so I could never enjoy it. Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing."

Now imagine trying to go on a world tour, visiting over 40 countries in less than two years, while silently struggling  the way Bieber was. It's no wonder that Bieber canceled the remaining 14 concerts (after performing over 150 of them, by the way), in the summer of 2017. 

"I got really depressed on tour," he revealed to Vogue. "I haven't talked about this, and I'm still processing so much stuff that I haven't talked about. I was lonely. I needed some time."


That time away from the stage proved vital for Bieber, who began working on himself in a way he was never really afforded to before, turning to Carl Lentz, a Hillsong pastor, and Judah Smith, a pastor from City Church, guidance and help as he attempted to discover who exactly Justin Bieber was when you stripped away the fame. 

But the two men had vastly different approaches when it came to supporting Bieber. 

Smith was sort of the good cop, not going as far as to stage an intervention but always there for the star.

"He gives a lot to the world, and a lot has been taken from him, including a bit of the natural progression of development, the chance to grow relationally and socially," he told Vogue.

That left Lentz to take on the bad cop role, even staging a detox at his home for Bieber in 2014. 

"I grieved very intensely over the whole situation," Hailey recalled of that time period, during which Bieber interned with Lentz at Hillsong Church. "I just wanted him to be happy and be good and be safe and feel joy. But I'm really proud of him. To do it without a program, and to stick with it without a sober coach or AA or classes—I think it's extraordinary. He is, in ways, a walking miracle."

While he regularly attends church services and often talks about his faith on social media, Bieber to quick to clarify his stance when it comes to religion. 


"I wouldn't consider myself religious," Bieber said. "That confuses a lot of people because they're like, Well, you go to church. I believe in the story of Jesus—that's the simplicity of what I believe. But I don't believe in all the religious elitism and pretentiousness, like people are better than you because they come to church, like you have to go to church and dress a certain way. I get sensitive when religion comes up because it's been so hurtful to a lot of people. I don't want to be thought of as someone who stands for any of the injustice that religion has done and does do."

Still, as he continues to work on his moral and emotional development, Bieber regularly writes about his faith and relationship with God, opening up about anxiety earlier this month in an uplifting message to his fans

"Don't stop fighting the battle has already won.. fight for what you love and who you love don't let fear and anxiety win..god has not given us a spirit of fear but of power love and of a sound mind!" he wrote, quoting the King James Bible.

He continued, "Jesus has given me freedom and the persuit of getting to know his character is never ending. Gods character never changes he is the same yesterday now and forever. He is always good!. I won't be afraid to be vulnerable before him."

But after a two-year hiatus from the stage after canceling his Purpose tour, Bieber decided to ease back into the spotlight on his own terms and timeline.

During Ariana Grande's headlining set during Coachella weekend two, Bieber unexpectedly joined her on stage for an impromptu duet, much to the crowd's delight.

"Coachella, I wasn't gonna bring any guests out tonight, but my friend Justin Bieber came all the way out to spend some time with y'all," Grande said as Bieber came out. "And we thought it might be fun to do something for you guys. This was not planned at all. Thank you for being here Justin, we love you so much."

Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber & More Open Up About Mental Health

The friends performed his hit song "Sorry," with Bieber telling the crowd after, "I haven't been on stage in like two year...I had no idea I was gonna be on a stage tonight, absolutely no idea."

With no expectations and no pressure, Bieber was feeling himself. 

"So anyways, this is my first time onstage in like two years. I had to get my groove back, I had to get my swag back, you know what I'm saying? Thank you so much, Coachella, thank you so much, Ariana Grande."

And just before leaving the stage, he teased that a new album was "coming soon." 

Turns out, he wasn't kidding: In early May, fans began speculating that Bieber and Sheeran were teaming up to release new music when the duo both posted cryptic photos of each other on their respective Instagram accounts. 

Bieber teased first, sharing photos of him and the "Shape of You" crooner in front of green screens, captioning all three pics with "10."

Soon after, Sheeran, 28, posted an altered image of the two posing together, captioning that version, "Photoshop spoon." 

With fans already in a frenzy, a collab seemed even more legit as Braun and Stuart Camp (Ed's manager) also shared their own versions of the same green screen images on Twitter.

Fans, of course, were right, with Bieber and Sheeran set to drop "I Don't Care" on Friday, with Bieber releasing a tiny snippet from the song on Monday, along with a possible look at some of the lyrics, which ironically prove Bieber does care very much, despite the song's title. 

"Coz I don't care, When I'm with my baby yeah, All the bad things disappear," the teaser images posted by Bieber and Sheeran read when combined. "And you're making me feel like I'm loved by somebody. I can deal with the bad nights when I'm with my baby."

The new song is clearly referencing his wife, Hailey, and the impact she's had on his life and mental health since they reconciled in June 2018 before going on to shock the world by getting engaged and married within the next three months.

But Bieber immediately knew she was the one, almost 10 years after they first met during his appearance on the Today show in 2009.  

"I just forgot how much I loved her and how much I missed her and how much of a positive impact she made on my life," he explained. "I was like, Holy cow, this is what I've been looking for."

His longtime friend and former road manager Ryan Good, who is also the creative director of his Drew clothing line, acknowledged the impact the relationship has had, telling Vogue, "In his world, where there's so much take-take-take, it's hard for him to feel safe. Hailey is this force of calm. She is level."

In their Vogue cover story, the young newlyweds acknowledged "marriage is hard," and that they regularly attend therapy together. 

"I'm the emotionally unstable one," Justin explained. "I struggle with finding peace. I just feel like I care so much and I want things to be so good and I want people to like me. Hailey's very logical and structured, which I need. I've always wanted security—with my dad being gone sometimes when I was a kid, with being on the road. With the lifestyle I live, everything is so uncertain. I need one thing that's certain. And that"—he picks up her hand—"is my baby boo."

Consider her the yin to his yang, balancing each other out as they navigate their new world after marrying in September 2018. 


He'll say, 'I feel,' and I'll say, 'I think,'" the model and TV host said. "I have to really dive deep and struggle to be in touch with my emotions. He gets there immediately."

That difference in emotional responses often leads to arguments, but the couple doesn't see that as a red flag as long as they are actually listening to each other.

"Fighting is good," Justin explained. "Doesn't the Bible talk about righteous anger? We don't want to lose each other. We don't want to say the wrong thing, and so we've been struggling with not expressing our emotions, which has been driving me absolutely crazy because I just need to express myself, and it's been really difficult to get her to say what she feels."

But her feelings for her husband are just as deep, with the 22-year-old saying, "I love him very much. I have loved him for a long the end of the day, too, he's my best friend. I never get sick of him."

Well, as Bieber sings in "I Don't Care," she can take him anywhere as long as she holds him near.