Jackie Evancho has been battling an eating disorder for years. Over the years, the singer has shared her struggles with mental health with her fans. Now, she reveals that years of abusing her body has left her with osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones.
In a new intervie with People magazine Jackie recounts being hospitalized after a January 2021 car accident broke her back in two places.
“Now I’m a 22-year-old with osteoporosis.”
“They were abnormal breaks, breaks that you see in 80-year-olds,” Jackie told People. “That’s how I learned that my eating problems created osteoporosis. So now I’m a 22-year-old with osteoporosis.”
But even the accident, and the brittle bones diagnosis didn’t persuade Jackie, who finished America’s Got Talent 2010 in second place as a 10 year old opera singer, to deal with her food issues. She also competed on The Masked Singer in 2020, donning the costume, “Kitty.”
“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,” she says. “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.'”
Last October, finally, Jackie sought treatment at an inpatient facility.
Jackie’s battle with anorexia began at age 15
Jackie’s battle with anorexia began at 15 years of age. “I noticed that I looked a little bigger to myself, so I asked my mom, ‘Do I look fat?’ And she was like, ‘No, no, that’s just baby fat,'” Jackie said. “So I decided that I was going to start to mildly diet and start working out regularly.”
However, Jackie wasn’t satisfied with the results, so she began eating less and working out more. “When I started to go days without eating, in my head I said, ‘I know that this isn’t normal,’ ” she said. “I felt exhausted, moody, tearful, but after a bit of time, I started to feel nothing.”
Jackie sought treatment at 17, but continued to struggle. Quarantining for COVID-19 in 2020 only made her condition worse.
“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 confessed. “There weren’t distractions during COVID.”
“I’m still struggling but I’m fighting”
Today, Jackie sees a nutritionist and therapist and undergoes eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).which she hopes will help her process past trauma and get her anorexia under control.
“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 says. “I’m not healthy yet, but I have been able to implement healthy coping skills and better eating habits.”
“Since I was a kid I’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into my career, and to see that sort of fade away because of this demon in my head? No, I’m going to fight this now because you can’t take this one thing from me,” Jackie said. In September, the singer will release Carousel of Time, and Joni Mitchell covers album that includes remakes of “Both Sides Now” and “A Case of You,” and more.
Jackie also recently made a trip to Nashville to collaborate with songwriters.