Sufjan Stevens: songwriter ‘learning to walk again’ after being diagnosed with rare disease

Celebrated indie musician says he lost the ability to walk and is suffering from autoimmune disease

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04:  Recording artist Sufjan Stevens performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The Oscar-nominated US indie-folk artist Sufjan Stevens has announced he is suffering from a serious autoimmune disease.

In an Instagram post, he said he has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and is unable to walk. He said symptoms began last month. “My hands, arms and legs were numb and tingling and I had no strength, no feeling, no mobility,” he wrote. After a diagnosis in hospital, he spent two weeks “stuck in a bed, while my doctors did all the things to keep me alive and stabilise my condition. I owe them my life.”

He added that he was now “undergoing intensive physical therapy/occupational therapy, strength building etc to get my body back in shape and to learn to walk again. It’s a slow process, but they say I will ‘recover’, it just takes a lot of time, patience and hard work. Most people who have GBS learn to walk again on their own within a year, so I am hopeful ... I’m committed to getting better, I’m in good spirits, and I’m surrounded by a really great team.”

GBS is a rare condition in which a person’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves. People of all ages can be affected, but it is more common in adults and in males, according to the World Health Organisation.


Stevens said he was “very excited” about his forthcoming new album, Javelin, being released on October 6th. Two songs from the record, So You Are Tired and Will Anybody Ever Love Me?, have already been released.

Stevens is one of the leading figures of US alternative music, celebrated for albums including Illinois and Carrie & Lowell.

In 2018 he was nominated for best original song at the Academy Awards, for Mystery of Love, written for romantic drama Call Me By Your Name. – Guardian