US pop star Britney Spears has launched a blistering attack on the “abusive” conservatorship that has controlled her life for 13 years.
She said she was traumatised and cried every day, telling a judge in Los Angeles: “I just want my life back”.
Spears, 39, also said she had been denied the right to have more children and was put on the psychiatric drug lithium against her wishes.
Her father was granted control over her affairs by court order in 2008.
The order was granted after the star was put in hospital amid concerns over her mental health, and it has been extended for more than a decade since.
The special hearing on Wednesday was the first time Spears has spoken in open court about her case. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny thanked Spears for her “courageous” words during the proceedings.
It followed much speculation about the pop star’s situation, with fans eagerly combing her social media output for clues. A fan-led movement, known as #FreeBritney, has campaigned for her legal freedom for years.
But a long legal process is likely before any decision is made on ending the conservatorship, the Associated Press reports.
‘I deserve to have a life’
Spears delivered an impassioned address which lasted for more than 20 minutes. After launching into her speech, she was asked by the judge to slow down and later said she wished she could stay on the phone “forever” to avoid returning to her life where she was surrounded by people who said no to her.
Spears told the court she wanted the conservatorship to end and described the arrangement as “embarrassing and humiliating”.
Referring to past Instagram posts, the singer said: “I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m okay and I’m happy.
“I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatised,” she said. “I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears, a mother of two, said she wanted to marry her boyfriend and have another baby, but the conservatorship would not allow her to. She accused her conservator of stopping her from having a contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD) removed so she could get pregnant.
“I feel ganged up on and I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone,” she told the court. “I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does, by having a child, a family, any of those things.”
Spears said she felt “forced” to tour by her management. She said she spoke out against going straight onto a Las Vegas residency, and her therapist was falsely told she was not co-operating or taking her medication.
She alleged she was then put on the drug lithium – a common medicine for bipolar disorder – against her wishes and it had made her feel drunk and unable to converse.
Spears said it was her belief that the conservatorship was doing her “way more harm than good” and said she “honestly didn’t know” she could petition for the arrangement to end.
The full extent of why the court order was extended has never been made public. But Spears has maintained a public career, including a Las Vegas residency and a stint as an X-Factor judge, leading many to question the validity of the arrangement.
A lawyer for her father, Jamie Spears, said he had been troubled by the singer’s allegations in court.
“He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain,” the lawyer said in a statement read out in court. “Mr Spears loves his daughter, and he misses her very much.”
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is granted by a court for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions, such as those with dementia or other mental illnesses.
Spears’ conservatorship is split into two parts – one is for her estate and financial affairs, the other is for her as a person.
Under the agreement, the pop star has not controlled her finances since 2008. That is around the time she began to behave erratically amid her divorce from Kevin Federline and a custody battle over their children.
The star made headlines in a series of public incidents, including shaving her head, and she was twice admitted to hospital.