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Jewel: I Was 'Crippled By Agoraphobia' (VIDEO)

02/21/2014 12:09 pm ET | Updated Feb 21, 2014

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher is used to performing in front of large crowds nowadays. But as a teenager starting out in the music industry, the host of NBC's The Sing-Off struggled with debilitating agoraphobia. She discussed how her music helped her through troubled times on HuffPost Live.

The singer left her home in Alaska at 15. "I knew statistically girls that move out at 15 have abusive households, end up with abusive partners, doing drugs, being pregnant, you know. I knew statistically that's what would happen to me," she explained to host Caitlyn Becker.

In order to avoid the fate of so many runaways, Kilcher knew she would have to change. "I would have to learn how not--I'd have to relearn what I called an emotional language. I was raised speaking English in my household. You can say, 'I hate English, I'm going to grow up and never speak English.' But unless you learn a new language, you're going to speak English."

"And that's how emotional habits are. So as much as you can say, 'I was abused as a child, I don't want to abuse my child,' probably when you get forced in certain situations, you're going to do what you were taught. It's why the cycles repeat themselves."

She continued, "By the time I was homeless, I was crippled by agoraphobia, which is hard when you don't have a home, but in my car--I was afraid if I left my car, I would be stricken with illness."

"And I really realized I was going to succumb unless I learned how to control my fear and I really focused on how to do that, how to change my thoughts. And it started with daily learning how to change my fear into excitement and into enthusiasm. That's how I started to work myself out of my car."

Her music ultimately allowed her to connect with others and overcome her fears. "I was writing about it. Then I started singing in front of people and telling them my worst fears, and then my life changed because I started letting people--I felt less alone for the first time because I let myself be seen, really, for the first time--all my good, bad and ugly. And people accepted me because they felt seen, because we're all the same."

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