Writing about self-harm took Anita Rani back to 'something she’d put in a box in a dark pit somewhere’

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LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07:  Anita Rani attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at the Royal Albert Hall on April 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Anita Rani attends The Olivier Award, 2019 (Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

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Anita Rani's autobiography The Right Sort of Girl explores her experience of self-harming as a teenager, and she has revealed the journey which brought her to putting it into the book.

The Countryfile and Woman's Hour presenter — who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 — spoke to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast about what drove her to write the book during lockdown.

She explained that she wanted to write it to give a voice to the women in her family, and told Thornton that writing about her experience of self-harming as a teenager had taken her back to something she had 'put in a box, in a dark pit somewhere'.

WATCH: Anita Rani opens up about overcoming her experiences of self harm

She said: "When I wrote, all this book just sort of came out of my fingertips. I just sat down to write and it all just came out of me.

"I had tears in my eyes when I was writing it. And I came downstairs and read it to my husband. And he went: 'That is really powerful. And you should leave it in.' 

"It didn't cross my mind that I was explaining self-harm. It's just like, this is what I felt.

"It really took me back to being a teenager, to that experience. Something that I've put in a box in the dark pit somewhere. And I've never thought about. 

Anita Rani is proud to have been on 'Strictly', but admits she would love to have won. (Getty Images)
Anita Rani is proud to have been on 'Strictly', but admits she would love to have won. (Getty Images)

"And it's not something that I've ever done since then. I cannot honestly remember why I stopped. Maybe I felt shame. Maybe something shifted at home. I have no idea why I stopped. But it was certainly something I did."

Read more: Anita Rani reveals lockdown helped with her recovery after miscarriage

She also opened up to Thornton on some of the reasons behind her self-harming.

Rani said it came from "just complete loss and loneliness and sadness. Being a teenager is difficult. Oh my god, it's horrendous, and even if you are from the most perfect family.

Listen to the full episode and hear Anita Rani talk about how she met her husband, what music means to her, and the importance of calling out racism

"But you know, everybody's life is difficult. And mine just had added complications. And I felt like I couldn't go anywhere or express myself to anybody. 

"As the eldest daughter in an Asian family. I took everything on my own shoulders, and I learned to adapt myself, to read a room, to understand what the adults were feeling and thinking.

Read more: Anita Rani speculates she would have made 'Strictly' final 'if I didn't have a brown face'

"Because if anything is going to go at any minute, you don't know which way it's going to go. You learn from a very young age what's required of you. 'I need to make this person happy. Okay, I need to do this,' and it's never about you. [You're] constantly looking after other people. 

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Anita Rani (L) and Gleb Savchenko perform during the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour rehearsals, Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour opens tomorrow, 22nd January at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham and then tours the UK until 14th February, at Barclaycard Arena on January 21, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko perform during the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour rehearsals. Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images.

"I don't even think this is just about being an Asian woman. I think anybody who has grown up in any family where they felt that [would get it]."

Rani also spoke about the gratitude she feels towards those who have read the book.

She said: "Anybody who takes the time to read a book that somebody has [written], or appreciate something that someone's done, and put some time and effort into is like, amazing.

"Every time I meet someone who's read my book, every interview I've done, I feel like: 'Oh, thanks, that means a lot.' 

"Just you reading the book means a lot. Don't tell me if you hated it! Just don't tell me but thanks for reading."

She continued: "I think it is time to — lots of people are sharing their stories. And I felt like I had a story that was a little bit different, that might shed some light and help some people. And you know, just talking about things that I have never said."

Anyone affected by the issues raised in this story can read more get support on the Mind website.

Buy it: The Right Sort of Girl by Anita Rani | £11.59 Was £16.99) from Amazon

WATCH: Anita Rani on writing about her childhood, competing in Strictly, clinching Woman's Hour and channeling Kate Bush

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