Avril Lavigne Is Back with New Song Inspired by Lyme Disease Battle: 'I Thought I Was Dying'

Avril Lavigne released a new song titled "Head Above Water" about her struggle with lyme disease

Avril Lavigne is keeping her “head above water” with the release of a brand new song.

The eight-time Grammy nominee’s latest track, “Head Above Water,” dropped on Wednesday, and it’s inspired by her well-documented struggle with Lyme disease. This is the first new music from the “Complicated” singer in five years.

“One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die,” Lavigne, 33, said in a statement shared with PEOPLE. “My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning.”

David Needleman

She also explained exactly how that experience impacted her music career.

“Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began,” she continued in the statement. “It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.”

David Needleman

The pop ballad opens with piano but quickly transitions to a more rock sound. Lavigne sings with an intense degree of emotion: “God keep my head above water / Don’t let me drown, it’s getting harder / I’ll meet you there at the altar/ As I fall down to my knees / Don’t let me drown.”

In addition to writing a song about the disease, Lavigne has also started a self-titled foundation to fight Lyme.

David Needleman

Earlier this month, the singer told fans she planned to release new music and that she hoped “more than ANYTHING to be back up on stage” in a heartfelt open letter.

“Thank you for waiting so patiently as I fought through and still continue to fight the battle of my lifetime,” Lavigne wrote.

David Needleman

She continued: “[‘Head Above Water’] is the first song I wrote from my bed during one of the scariest moments of my life. I had accepted death and could feel my body shutting down. I felt like I was drowning. Like I was going under water and I just needed to come up for air. Like I was in a river being pulled in a current. Unable to breathe.”

David Needleman

In August, Lavigne also publicized that she was working on a music video and shared behind the scenes clips on social media.

Lavigne’s fight with Lyme disease began when she went to Las Vegas with a couple girlfriends in October 2014 to celebrate her 30th birthday. At the time, though, she felt like doing anything but partying. In fact, she’d been feeling terrible for several months, but the doctors she’d seen couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong with her.

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“I could barely eat, and when we went to the pool, I had to leave and go lie in bed,” she told PEOPLE in 2015. “My friends asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ I didn’t know.”

Shortly after, following months of feeling lethargic and light-headed, the normally energetic singer got her official diagnosis.

David Needleman

“I had no idea a bug bite could do this…I was bedridden for five months,” said Lavigne. “This was a wake-up call… I really just want to enjoy life from here on out.”

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