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How Music Helped Drake Bell Heal After Personal Challenges: ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ (Exclusive)

After dealing with many ups and downs in the public eye, Drake Bell is proud of how far he has come — and music has continued to play a major role in that.

“I really, really love what I do. Not many people get to say they love going to work and they spend their entire lives on their work,” Bell exclusively shared in the newest issue of Us Weekly. “I love producing, directing, acting and entertaining. That is what I hope my future is for the rest of my life.”

Over the years, Bell has always found himself drawn back to music.

“It’s my air. It’s my oxygen. That’s how I survive and how I live. That’s how I tell my story,” he noted. “I hope that I’m able to continue telling my story, and thankfully, I have a job where that’s what I do. We tell stories, and whether it’s our story or it’s our stories, that’s my goal for the future.”

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Bell has found that writing songs equates in many ways to journaling, adding, “It’s a really healthy way of getting what’s inside out.”

Before leaving his mark through music, Bell rose to stardom as a child actor starring on hit TV shows such as All That, Drake & Josh and more. His success initially became overshadowed as Bell weathered multiple arrests and substance abuse issues as he grew up in the spotlight.

Drake Bell Credits Music for Helping His Healing After Personal Challenges
Jaime Nogales/Medios y Media/Getty Images

Bell surprised fans earlier this year when he broke his silence about being a victim of sexual abuse in Investigation Discovery’s four-part docuseries Quiet on Set, which addressed the negative aspects of childhood stardom at Nickelodeon. Bell specifically confirmed that he was the previously unnamed child who spoke out in 2003 about dialogue coach Brian Peck‘s abuse.

“Recovery is a very difficult thing, especially when you’ve been stricken with [substance abuse] for so many years. But when I started talking about my story sober and clear-headed, it’s a completely different perspective on everything,” Bell explained to Us. “The hurt and pain start to get lifted [and] all of this stuff becomes a part of your past.”

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Bell, who shares a 3-year-old son with ex-wife Janet Von Schmeling, was suddenly thrust back into focus after taking time away. He retreated after several personal challenges including pleading guilty to two criminal counts of attempted child endangerment charges and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. (Bell has maintained that he ceased contact with a fan after he found out she was a minor.)

The musician has since traced back some of his behavior back to the abuse he suffered — and then didn’t address for years.

“You realize the more you hold those emotions in, they affect everything and everyone around you,” he said to Us. “Now that my story is out, it’s so much easier to go, ‘OK, I tripped and fell there. I could have done it differently, but if I had done it differently, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Bell doesn’t think he would have made it this far if it wasn’t for his decision to enter therapy.

“It’s an incredible thing. You go through life thinking, ‘I’m alone in this, this is something I have to keep inside. I’m gonna be judged for it.’ Then you get into a group setting like that and share your story and it feels so good to get it out,” he recalled before discussing how the process allowed him to discover memories he previously blocked out.

Bell used his life to inspire his art with his new single “I Kind of Relate.” The music video focused on Bell’s challenges such as the abuse he faced. He has expanded his discography with “Hollywouldn’t” and “Te Desenamoraste,” which is a prelude to his sixth studio album titled Non-Stop Flight.

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“I started writing the record before Quiet on Set. I didn’t really sit down to write a record. It just started to come out,” he said about the album which is set to be released this fall. “Having something like that locked inside for so long and now it being a weight lifted has been great and encouraging. It’s a really healthy way of getting what’s inside out. ”

Bell is thankful for how his career helped him get back on track. “You can express emotion through the sounds and the melodies and the instruments that you use,” he explained. “There’s so much emotion in music. It’s healing to be in the studio and get the words out.”

He concluded: “What I’ve been experiencing [is] realizing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is healing on the other side.”

For more on Bell’s journey, watch the video above and pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

With reporting by Andrea Simpson

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