Michael Ray on His Chronic Anxiety: ‘If I Can Say It, Hopefully It Will Inspire Somebody Else’
In December of 2017, a very public arrest for drug possession and driving while intoxicated caused break-out country star Michael Ray to take a step and reckon with himself, and with his growing fanbase. The event came at the crest of a banner year for the country singer, who was in the process of recording his sophomore album after finding massive success with hits such as "Kiss You in the Morning" and "Think a Little Less," off of his self-titled debut album.
Earlier in the year, Ray had begun to open up with fans about his long-time struggle with anxiety. "I've battled anxiety a drastic amount that I've hid. It caused ulcers as a kid," Ray explains to Rolling Stone. "I didn't know what was wrong with me ... I'm gonna put on a smile and do this, but on the inside, I'm scared. All this stupid stuff that's in your head and you can't get out."
In the aftermath of his arrest (the charges were subsequently reduced to reckless driving), Ray opened up further about how his battle with anxiety, coupled with a mounting tour schedule and the pressure surrounding his second album, threatened to overwhelm him.
"I've never been in trouble a day in my life," he admits. "I'm overthinking, anxiety-driven, so add that on top of it. I was like, 'What the hell just happened? Is this it? Is this going to mess up everything that we're doing? ... But through that, I never felt more love and support from fans or from my peers in country music."
In fact, being vulnerable with fans and letting them into his struggles with anxiety was liberating. "I'm realizing, we're all the same, and this is me. This is the c--p I went through. This is want I battle," he says. "If I can say it, hopefully it inspires somebody through my music, or maybe they see an interview or whatever it is, and they go, 'That's how I feel.' There are times when it wasn't the easiest, and I always try to be on and be cool: 'Oh, I've got my s--t together. But I don't."
In a recent interview with The Boot, Ray added that being honest with fans about the ups and downs of his life has boosted his self-confidence. "They give me the confidence to be like, you know what? I don't always have to be the cool guy," he goes on to say. It's funny how sometimes they'll feel like they get so much from us, but we get even more from them."