Joni Mitchell Says She's Been Battling A Mystery Illness For Years

The legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell has seen better days according to her new biography, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, by David Yaffe.

The iconic folk singer has been living as a recluse in Los Angeles and British Columbia over the last decade, and now we finally know why.


Mitchell has recently been plagued with multiple health ailments, including a brain aneurysm that left her unable to talk for a while and an incurable mystery condition.

"I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it's from outer space," Mitchell said in an interview a few years ago.

However, in the new book, she delves into more detail about the extent of her illness and it is heartbreaking.

Mitchell, who turned 74 on November 7, said that she suffers from a rare condition called Morgellon's disease.

"Morgellon's is a slow, unpredictable killer "” a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year," she explained in the book. "Fibers in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral."


The Big Yellow Taxi singer also added that there have been times when she wasn't able to wear clothes because she felt like she was being "eaten alive," and other times her legs would cramp so severely that she would crawl across the floor instead of walking.

Although Morgellon's disease is often referred to as "mysterious," expert opinion differs on whether or not it is a real disease.

The Mayo Clinic describes it as an "uncommon skin disorder characterized by sores, crawling sensations on and under the skin, and fiber-like filaments emerging from the sores," but according to the Centers for Disease Control, these signs "are very similar to those of a mental illness involving false beliefs about infestation by parasites (delusional parasitosis)."


Like the CDC, many medical experts treat Morgellon's as a mental condition rather than a physical one. It is believed that many of the victims have had a history of drug use, and this is no different for Mitchell. The singer has admitted to taking drugs, including cocaine, in the past.

Despite her declining health, Mitchell has been taking it all in stride and even made a rare a public appearance earlier this year. She stepped out for Clive Davis's annual pre-Grammys party back in February.

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell was released on October 17, 2017, and in addition to her health, it chronicles her remarkable life from her tough childhood in Canada to her rise to international stardom. You can grab a copy on Amazon if you're interested in reading it.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.