In January, Ed Sheeran took to Instagram to explain he hadn't been on social media much for the "past couple of years" due to "turbulent things ... happening in my personal life." He didn't elaborate at the time, but now, ahead of the May release of his latest album, - (Subtract), the 32-year-old British singer-songwriter is revealing more on what those turbulent things entailed. In a Wednesday release, Sheeran noted that he'd toiled on Subtract for 10 years—and "then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art," per People.
"Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumor, with no route to treatment until after the birth," the "Shape of You" singer notes (Sheeran's second daughter with Cherry Seaborn entered the world in May). Then, "my best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly," he says, referring to DJ and entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, who died from a heart attack after drinking and using cocaine, per the BBC. Sheeran also references a plagiarism lawsuit he was contending with, all of which sent him "spiraling through fear, depression, and anxiety."
"I felt like I was drowning, head below the surface, looking up but not being able to break through for air," Sheeran says of his mental state at the time. He notes that "in just over a week, I replaced a decade's worth of work" on Subtract "with my deepest, darkest thoughts." Sheeran doesn't offer an update on his wife's health in the release, but in his January Instagram post, he notes, "Things are looking up, and I'm back online." (Read more Ed Sheeran stories.)