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Cheryl Opens Up On Mental Health Struggles During Height Of Fame: ‘It Was All Too Much For Me’

Cheryl has opened up about how her mental health was impacted at the height of her fame, and how she struggled to cope.

The former Girls Aloud star has taken a step back from the spotlight in recent years following the birth of her son Bear in 2017.

The singer, who is about to return to the stage in her debut acting role in the West End play 2:22 A Ghost Story, admits the media attention and scrutiny she faced around her divorce from footballer Ashley Cole in 2010 when she was also a judge on The X Factor and a successful solo artist, was “the perfect storm” and was “too much pressure”.

Cheryl attends the Primrose Ball, in honour of Sarah Harding at The Londoner Hotel on October 8, 2022 in London, England.
Cheryl attends the Primrose Ball, in honour of Sarah Harding at The Londoner Hotel on October 8, 2022 in London, England.

Cheryl attends the Primrose Ball, in honour of Sarah Harding at The Londoner Hotel on October 8, 2022 in London, England.

She told The Independent: “I was already known with Girls Aloud and it [grew] slowly for the first four or five years, just being at a certain level of fame. And then The X Factor hit, and I had a lot of personal stuff going on at that time.

“It was all just like a perfect storm,” she said. “I was caught up in it, I couldn’t get out of it. It was too much for me. There was too much pressure and that made it less enjoyable. And it was constant.” 

When she was asked how she coped, she replied: “I honestly didn’t.”

As a well as dealing with an unhealthy “level of intrusion” from the press, the 39-year-old reveals she also had to deal with stalkers.

“I had people waiting outside my house, people stalking me, people stalking people I was associated with,” she said. 

“It was quite isolating in the end. it wasn’t a healthy state to be in or a healthy level of intrusion.” 

She added: “But I got through it somehow. I survived.”

Cheryl’s return to the stage comes 16 months after the death of her Girls Aloud bandmate Sarah Harding from breast cancer in September 2021.

She says there are no plans for the band to reform, but hasn’t ruled it out entirely.

(L-R) Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle and Sarah Harding of Girls Aloud perform at Wembley Stadium as part of Coldplay's Viva La Vida tour at Wembley Stadium on September 18, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Girls Aloud/Getty Images)
(L-R) Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle and Sarah Harding of Girls Aloud perform at Wembley Stadium as part of Coldplay's Viva La Vida tour at Wembley Stadium on September 18, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Girls Aloud/Getty Images)

(L-R) Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle and Sarah Harding of Girls Aloud perform at Wembley Stadium as part of Coldplay's Viva La Vida tour at Wembley Stadium on September 18, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Girls Aloud/Getty Images)

“We’re not there. We’re not there yet,” she told the newspaper. “I wouldn’t ever say never because I’ve learned in life to not do that. But there isn’t anything on the cards and we haven’t spoken [about anything] outside of friendship in the last few years. We haven’t spoken about Girls Aloud; we’ve only spoken about life.”

In July last year, Cheryl reunited with her Girls Aloud bandmates Kimberly Walsh, Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts to join fans and supporters in Race For Life For Sarah, a 5k run to raise money and celebrate the life of Sarah.

Read the full interview with Cheryl in The Independent here.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

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