Rosie Thomas Explains Four Year Hiatus, Crippling Anxiety

02/15/2012 1:41 PM |

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You might know Rosie Thomas as that one folk singer who used to collaborate with Sufjan Stevens a lot. Or, maybe you appreciated her on her own—Thomas came out with five full-length albums (and two EP’s) in fairly quick succession, from 2001 to 2008. But until Valentine’s Day, it had been four years since anyone’s heard new material from Thomas’ instantly recognizable, sharply sweet voice. What had happened to her?

It turns out that Thomas had been suffering from a debilitating kind of anxiety, the kind caused by a hyperactive thyroid. In an essay for Spinner, published Tuesday, Thomas writes that for two years, not knowing about the thyroid link, she was waking up in a state of panic that lasted all day, had to move back in with her parents and started putting blankets on the window to block the sunlight. She fixated on feeling like an ill-fitting part of the universe. But the essay isn’t about anxiety—it’s about overcoming it. Whether you’re into her music or not, this piece is must-read.

I learned some really valuable things during that time. I learned that I was lovable after all, even when I felt wholeheartedly that I had nothing to offer: No jokes, no songs, no laughter, no wit. “What was there to love?” I thought. Well, there was still me. Me, without my guitar and pretty voice and one heck of a wit, sure, but I still had value and I began to believe it.

Thomas released a new album on Tuesday, called With Love. It even features people from the old folk gang—David Bazan and Sufjan Stevens included. You can listen to the album while it’s streaming on her bandcamp. Oh, and here’s that track from Thomas’ 2006 album, These Friends of Mine, that probably made people think Thomas and Sufjan were pregnant.

You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone