Kesha Opens Up About Recovering From the "Self-Imposed Death" of an Eating Disorder

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Kesha didn’t mention Dr. Luke once during the interviews for her Rolling Stone cover story. Although the specter of her former producer, who she’s embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with over sexual assault allegations and contract disputes, hangs over much of the piece, she’d prefer to focus on more positive developments. Like her great third album Rainbow and how she came to beat the “slow, painful, shameful self-imposed death” of an eating disorder.

In 2014, Kesha checked into Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Illinois to treat bulimia nervosa. She mentions in the Rolling Stone piece that “certain people” would shame her for wanting to eat ever since she was signed, which could be a subtle callback to when she accused Dr. Luke of calling her a “fucking fat refrigerator” in court documents. Besides getting her healthy again, Timberline Knolls became a source of highly supervised inspiration for Kesha:

She wrote a bunch of songs there, after persuading the administration to let her have a battery-operated keyboard. She wasn’t allowed to use one with a cord “because you don’t want to have anything that could be at all used for suicide. And I was like, ‘I respect all of that, but please let me have a keyboard or my brain’s going to explode. My head has all these song ideas in it, and I just really need to play an instrument.’”


But before she sought out help, Kesha paints a harrowing picture of living with an eating disorder. She rarely ate during this period, and when she did, it came with crippling guilt. “I felt very ashamed, and I would make myself throw up because I’d think, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I actually did that horrible thing. I’m so ashamed of myself because I don’t deserve to eat food.’” It was a vicious cycle, with friends telling her she looked better as she ate less and less. She points to one dinner party as a breaking point for determining that she needed to get help:

“And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what if they walk outside and see this food in a bush? Or they see it in the garbage can?’ And I just had all this mounting anxiety. And then finally I was like, ‘Fuck. This. Shit. Fuck this shit. I’m hungry!’ And I am so anxious that I feel like I’m going to explode from all the secrets. All the secret times I’m pretending to eat or other times I’m purging, and I’m trying to not let anybody know.”

She also mentions “a friend in the music business, one she won’t name” who called to congratulate her progress the day after he won several Grammys. (Theory: It’s totally Macklemore—he won four Grammys in 2014, the same year Kesha checked into an inpatient facility, and the pair just collaborated on “Good Old Days.”) “He was like, ‘Who cares about my Grammys? You just saved your fucking life.’ And I just was blown away by that, because it made me look at the whole thing totally differently.”

Another collaborator, Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal, is a prominent source in the piece, and he closes it out with a badass story of Kesha getting instant vengeance on a groper. Apparently, a 16-year-old Kesha was smoking weed with Eagles of Death Metal, when some guy who wasn’t in the band grabbed her breast:

She calmly asked him if it was an accident, if he had meant to pass her the joint. No, he replied, and she didn’t hesitate. “She just fuckin’ popped him,” Hughes recalls, with palpable admiration. “Boom! Right in the lips, kind of split his upper lip. Then, she forgave him when he apologized.”


Don’t fuck with Kesha.

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