Madison Beer is ready for her music to speak for herself.
On Friday, the singer-songwriter released her debut album Life Support
"I feel like I'm finally being seen for things that I value and being viewed for things that I actually feel really good about. And my music I feel like is speaking for itself," the 21-year-old tells PEOPLE. "This is who I am."
Several of the album's tracks — including "Effortlessly" and "Stay Numb and Carry On" delve into the singer's anxiety and mental health — and although she was "really scared and nervous" to talk about her journey, she was "super eager" to share it with the world.
"I genuinely was really frightened to publicly speak about any of this stuff because I just never know how people are going to interpret things I talk about," she says. "So it was a bit scary for me, but I'm really glad that I did it. And I'm really glad that so many people have now felt less alone and have been able to feel like they have a friend in me. When I was going through it, I felt really lonely and I felt this sense of shame because I feel like there's a huge stigma around mental health."
"Once I got a diagnosis and I actually realized that I was genuinely diagnosed and had an anxiety disorder, it doesn't feel so good," she adds. "And then I started realizing there's nothing wrong with it and I shouldn't feel like that. I wanted to make sure that I was like, 'Hey, I'm going through this and this is what's happening.'"
Beer also says she hopes the album helps introduce the real Madison to those who choose to listen.
"I think that there's so many misconceptions about me," she says. "'You have a perfect life.' And I'm like, no, I want to show you even if it looks like I do, I am also struggling severely and in therapy every single day and I'm on anxiety medication. I just wanted to deconstruct this idea that people have that if you present like you have a perfect life on social media, that doesn't mean that you actually do."
Beer says therapy has been really helpful to her and surrounding herself with a "protective environment" and setting boundaries.
"If someone tells a joke around me that offends me or triggers me, I get up out of the room and I defend myself and I'm not fearful to make things maybe a bit uncomfortable," she says. "I've learned that if I'm in a room and I feel like I'm being silenced or I'm uncomfortable or just anything negative, I'll just get up and remove myself."
The album releases on the anniversary 10-year anniversary of Beer launching her YouTube channel, which propelled her career. Looking back, Beer had some advice for the then-11-year-old Madison.
"I would tell her to buckle up and I would say she's very strong. I think she can get through anything," Beer says. "I would just tell her, 'You're going to do great and there's nothing to worry about. Try not to get too focused on stupid little things and just stay true to yourself. Don't lose yourself.' I would just give her a hug and send her on her way. She knows what she's doing."
On one of her album's tracks, "Selfish," which she released as a single, Beer connects a past relationship to how her own father hurt her.
"Writing that song was pretty emotional and heavy for me because there's obviously certain things you don't want to face," she says. "My dad's awesome and I love him. My ex and I are cool. It's all love. I think that putting out that song and songs that are about my breakup or about my family or my life, they're all momentary things."
As for her top track on the album, she says it's hard to choose her favorite, but she's currently "vibing to 'Sour Times,'" which pays reference to band Portishead and has a "spacey and trippy" vibe.
"I think it aligns pretty perfectly with real life. And I don't know, it hits different these days," she says.
Life Support is out now.
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