Kelsea Ballerini is happy and healthy now, but the country singer admits that hasn't always been the case. In her new book of poetry, "Feel Your Way Through," which is out now, Ballerini said she suffered from an eating disorder in high school.
"My parents had just gotten divorced, and I think for me, it was a source of control," Ballerini told People.
Ballerini addresses her struggle in her poem "Kangaroo," that details being picked on in high school. The teenage bully exacerbated her battle with bulimia, diet pills and excessive workouts. She got help at 18, but Ballerini said her relationship with her body is a never-ending journey.
"I don't work out to get skinny; I work out to be healthy," she said. "I don't eat a salad to be skinny; I eat a salad to be healthy. I've re-calibrated what it means to me to look in the mirror and just be like, 'Man, I'm healthy. I'm strong. I have good breath support to do my job well.' Those are things that matter to me now, rather than: 'I look skinny in a dress.'"
Ballerini, who just spent time on tour with The Jonas Brothers and collected her first two CMA Awards, said she chose now to share her truth because it took time to gain the confidence to be so transparent. She hopes that by coming forward, she'll encourage others to share their stories, too.
"When you're able to talk about things, you either are going to feel shame about it, and you're going to keep it hidden, or you're going to air it out and be vulnerable and connect with people and take the sting away from it and heal together," Ballerini said. "And I think that's just the better option for me at this point in my life. So that's why I air out a couple of my dark secrets in this book."