Abby Anderson Gets Real About Her Battle With an Eating Disorder
Abby Anderson is opening up about an eating disorder that she hid from the public, and those closest to her, for years.
The singer-songwriter has always kept a journal. Through the years, those journals would end up holding a plethora of thoughts and feelings and music and memories, from the good to the bad to the downright painful. And it was within those journals that the Texas native was reminded of how deep those pains once were.
“I was reading through my journals the other night,” Anderson tells Taste of Country in a recent interview. “I was reading some stuff from 2018, and literally, I just wanted to go hug that girl, you know?”
Unfortunately, most fans didn’t know all that Anderson was going through a few years back, as all impressions seemed to be that the female powerhouse had just about everything going for her, courtesy of a big-time publishing deal, big-time tours and big-time music, including the powerful "Make Him Wait" in 2018.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
This habit of putting her true feelings on the back burner was something that Anderson says she was taught from a young age.
“I created a narrative that was basically, ‘Hey, in order to survive, you shut up, you do what you're told, and you create peace,” says Anderson, who was one of seven children and moved to Nashville at the age of 17. “And so, I think I subconsciously carried that narrative over to Black River.”
Black River Entertainment was her label at the time, the place that took her in and hoped to make her a big country star via songs including “Survivor Mode.” But soon, the 19-year-old at the time started feeling a tad uneasy.
“I wanted to make Carole King sort of country music, and this wasn’t that,” remembers Anderson, who released her latest song, “Be That Girl,” on Jan. 21. “At the time, I don’t think I had the tools yet to understand my intuition, much less listen to it and much, much less…stand up for myself.”
This uneasiness over her professional life began to seep into her personal life, and soon Anderson found herself battling an eating disorder.
“It was bad,” she remembers. “I remember I was on tour when it first started. At first, I. thought it was, ‘Oh, I just want to look good, so I'm going to eat chicken and broccoli and that's it, three times a day.' Then, people start noticing your abs and people start commenting on how amazing you look. And then for some reason, I don't know what clicked in my brain, but I started to see it as something I could finally control.”
As everything about her personal and professional life seemed to be getting steered by others, Anderson found that this was one area of her life she could direct.
“I once read that addiction is the opposite of connection and that we find something to get addicted to when we are disconnected,” she says quietly. “And that was my eating disorder.”
Soon, loved ones began noticing a change in the once fun and rambunctious country music artist.
“I remember the night I told (Tyler),” explains Anderson of Tyler Graham, who she made her husband in 2021. “We had probably dated for a year, and I was on the road, and I was doing everything — restriction and purging and binging. I remember one week it was really bad, and I was just bawling my eyes out on the bathroom floor after having an episode. And I was just thinking to myself, ‘This is not me. This is not the woman my parents raised. This is not the woman I want girls to look up to.’ I knew I couldn’t keep doing this.”
And Graham wasn’t about to let her, either.
In 2020, with the help of family and friends, Anderson "watched myself" gain 20 pounds, "just to be a normal looking, healthy person again."
“There has definitely been ups and downs, especially when your mind has been so trained to view yourself a certain way,” says Anderson, whose reflective single “Bad Posture” touches on the idea of "shrinking yourself to make others look taller."
“But Tyler has just held me and loved me through it all.”
Nevertheless, there is still work to be done.
“When you're trained for three years to act and be a certain way and to cater to certain people, it's ingrained in you,” concludes Anderson, who also says she will release a new album in 2022. “And it might take me time to let go of that. But I feel like every single day, I feel more and more free.”
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