Joshua Bassett On How ‘Drivers License’ Led Him To ‘Heart Failure’

Joshua Bassett is getting honest about his health.

“If I look at my last year, the difference between the good days and the not good days comes down to whether I took time for myself,” Bassett said in this weeks’ issue of PEOPLE.

In this past year Bassett, 21, was under heat after his former co-star and ex-girlfriend, Olivia Rodrigo released her viral hit “Drivers License” last January.

Bassett says the stress from the hate he received from the song, including death threats, affected him. And days later, hospital battling heart failure.

“In this last year a lot of my biggest fears came true,” he says. “But in that, I found that I’ll always be OK, if not better off.”

In the week leading up to his hospitalization, Bassett says “every day I felt worse and worse.”

“I was sleeping 16 to 20 hours a day,” he says. “I couldn’t even stand up for longer than 30 seconds.”

And six days after “Drivers License” debuted, Bassett dropped his song “Lie Lie Lie,” which he alleges had scheduled for release on that day despite speculation he had written it in response to Rodrigo’s hit.

However, instead of feeling excitement over his new single, “I felt my heart literally failing,” says Bassett. “I was like, ‘This isn’t just anxiety. This is bad.'”

A producer then took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with septic shock.

RELATED: Joshua Bassett Reveals He Was Sexually Abused As A Child And Teen

“The doctors were like, ‘If you hadn’t checked in within 12 hours, you would have died in your apartment,'” says Bassett, who was also told his illness could have been brought on by stress. “It’s wild that I was this close to taking another nap.”

And nine days later, Bassett left the hospital physically recovered but mentally he was not in a good place.

“I was even more depressed and stressed,” he says. “I had a panic attack every single day.”

“People had this mentality like, ‘Oh, you were going through so much, so what you were making must have been so great,'” he says. “While, yes, I was able to make something out of my pain, a lot of times it was just me grieving and going through all these different feelings.”

Bassett says he decided to hold off releasing the songs he had written until December to avoid fueling rumors. But after the release, “that week was worse than the year combined,” he says. “I got what I had to say off of my chest, but it brought all that stuff back up, and the healing isn’t very linear.”

Bassett credits his therapist, along with yoga and meditation, with helping him get better.

“My therapist, she loves the song ‘Set Me Free,’ but every time she hears it, she goes, ‘Only you can set yourself free,'” he says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. I get it.’ But I do understand now that it really is me who can give myself permission to move on. Ultimately, I was the one who had to set myself free.”

RELATED: Joshua Bassett Says He Almost Died After Septic Shock and Heart Failure Landed Him In The Hospital

In addition, he was able to process the trauma in therapy that stemmed from the sexual abuse he had endured as a child and as a teen. And while Bassett hasn’t publicly named his abusers, he previously said a relative abused him from ages 5 to 9 and that an older man in one of his theater groups abused him when he was a teen.

“What I realized recently is that the reason why I haven’t been able to process so much of it is because I went into pure shock,” he says. “I’m still very much in the middle of the whole process, and I think it is a lifelong thing, but I’m learning to peel back the layers.

Bassett says that he hopes his story will help others.

“It really bothers me that people said, ‘Why didn’t you do anything about it?'” he says. “When you go into freeze mode, you literally shut down. If I, a person with a platform, got treated like that, what would happen to a person in a small town? I won’t shut up about this until we’re far past that.”

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