Jackie Evancho in 2019. (Photo: Jim Spellman via Getty Images)
Jackie Evancho is opening up about her experiences with an eating disorder, revealing for the first time that she was diagnosed with osteoporosis last year.
In an interview with People published Wednesday, the singer said she first learned of her condition after she was hospitalized following a January 2021 car accident that broke her back in two places.
“They were abnormal breaks, breaks that you see in 80-year-olds,” said Evancho, who rose to prominence as the runner-up on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010. “That’s how I learned that my eating problems created osteoporosis. So now I’m a 22-year-old with osteoporosis.”
Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease that causes bones to become thin, weak and more likely to break. According to the National Library of Medicine, the disease impacts more than 200 million people worldwide and is considerably more common in women than men.
After learning of her diagnosis, the singer was also forced to confront the fact that she had an eating disorder. She said she began skipping meals at age 15 and first sought treatment for anorexia two years later.
Evancho rose to prominence in 2019, when she was the runner-up on "America's Got Talent." (Photo: NBC via Getty Images)
Like most musicians and live performers, Evancho became homebound in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold ― and found that her time in self-isolation only exacerbated her eating disorder.
“The urge to restrict what I’m eating, on top of eating because I’m bored, and panic because I have this distorted view of myself in the mirror ... it made everything really difficult,” she said. “I had to eat [for my bones] to heal, and that really messed me up with my eating problems, because I was gaining weight to heal. Once I finally healed, my disorder said, ‘OK, now you’ve got to be really hard on yourself to get all of that out of you ... and then some.’”
These days, Evancho admits she’s “not healthy yet” and “still fully in the throes” of her ordeal. But she now sees a therapist and a nutritionist regularly, and undergoes eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a type of psychotherapy that she hopes will help get her anorexia under control.
She’s also finding solace once again in music, having recently spent time in the studio in Nashville. This fall, she’ll release “Carousel of Time,” a Joni Mitchell tribute album.
“I’m still struggling, but I’m fighting, which is good because a year ago I was giving in to it completely, and that’s so dark and painful,” Evancho told People. “There are still issues, but they are so much better.”
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.