People Exclusive Update on Coping with Lyme Disease: ‘I’ve Really Overcome a Lot’

“I just have to be super diligent,” the pop star tells PEOPLE of her health battle

By Marisa Sullivan

Debbie Gibson refuses to let her health condition get her down.

“I’ve come so far,” the pop singer, 53, tells PEOPLE at Bring Change to Mind‘s 11th Revels & Revelations event in N.Y.C. on Monday night. “I’ve learned how to manage my symptoms. I’ve learned how to overcome. I’ve never said I’m struggling with Lyme [disease], I say I’m overcoming Lyme. So, I’ve really overcome a lot and I just remain diligent and consumed with my body and my mind and it’s working,” she says.

“It’s kind of day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, overall not really good,” Gibson shares of the immune-compromising condition. “I just have to be super diligent and if I get away from being diligent, I start to get taken down.”

“But I went from not even being able to get out of bed and walk to doing 60 concerts this past year,” she continues.

With her Winterlicious holiday shows coming up in December in L.A. and New York, the singer says she keeps pushing herself forward.

“It humbles you when you deal with a major health issue and mental health. We’re all just trying to put one foot in front of the other,” she adds.

The star experienced huge success in the 80s and was the youngest female artist to write, produce and perform a Billboard No.1 single with her tune “Foolish Beat” from her debut 1987 album Out of the Blue. But she paid a price for that success.

“I had so much going on in my career,” she says, adding that she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a teen.

“I mean, the last thing that anybody thought was that my mental health was being compromised with all the things that I was handling in a very adult world as a child,” Gibson adds. “And you learn as a young person to not complain, like you’re supposed to be sunshine and lollipops all the time.”

Gibson also stresses to PEOPLE the importance of continuing to normalize mental health struggles.

“I would encourage more workplaces to say, ‘mental health 20 minutes, everybody stop’, ” she says. “I’ve had some heavy stuff going on in my life and I find myself ducking out at events, going to have a cry in the restroom and coming back. Because that’s life. And you’re not going to be putting on your happy face all the time.”

 Debbie Gibson Opens Up About Coping with Anxiety as an ’80s Teen Star: ‘I Was an Adult as a Kid’

Actress Glenn Close and her family started Bring Change to Mind to fight the stigma of mental illness and Monday’s gala — held at N.Y.C’s City Winery — specifically supported teen mental health.


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