Doing Love Island was the worst decision of my life, says Jacques O’Neill

·3-min read

Jacques O’Neill has said he “couldn’t cope” in the Love Island villa after quitting the hit reality dating show.

The rugby player, 23, announced his shock exit from the ITV2 series during Tuesday’s episode, telling his fellow islanders he needed to “get back to himself” in emotional scenes.

Following his exit, he told The Sun: “Doing Love Island was the worst decision of my life. I was ready to break down.

“I was feeling so mentally drained, I just wanted to go home and get myself right.

“It broke me and I was already broken. I was crying my eyes out. I couldn’t cope.

“I was literally feeling awful. It was the worst I’d ever felt in my life.”

His exit from the show came after he had spent a number of days attempting to win back his partner Paige Thorne after it was revealed he kissed Cheyanne Kerr while she was away in Casa Amor.

He said: “I watched the Casa Amor episodes to torture myself and look at my actions. I was disgusted in myself, I understand the hate. I’m feeling quite numb.

“I will wait for Paige on the outside, but I’m not watching the show again, I can’t do it.”

Before deciding to leave the show, the 23-year-old came close to having a physical argument with new bombshell Adam Collard who wanted to pursue his partner Paige.

Jacques said: “I thought if I don’t get myself out things could go horribly wrong and I could get physical.

“At home you can remove yourself from situations, but in there you had to deal with every situation, and in that moment I took my microphone off, and walked straight through the front doors because I just wanted to get out of that place.

“Producers tried coming to me, they were like, ‘Jacques, are you OK?, I was saying, ‘I don’t want to speak to you or anyone. I want to be left to myself’. It was too much.

“I was saying to them, ‘This is more than a TV show to me’, it was genuine feelings involved and my headspace wasn’t right to be in a TV show.

“I dealt with stuff in there that I’ve never dealt with in my life.”

He added that he “couldn’t deal with it” and was crying to ITV bosses, saying “I’m ready to go home.”

Jacques, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was nine, spoke about living in the villa with his condition.

He said: “Any little thing in the villa, in the end, started bothering me and I was just getting in so much of a rut.

“I know the way I spoke to Paige was wrong. I tried to apologise and she kept asking why I did it.

The 2022 Love Island contestants
Love Island cast 2022 (ITV/PA)

“ADHD isn’t just about not being able to concentrate. It’s also about feeling anxious quite a lot, being on edge a lot.”

Jacques added that he has received mass support from the ADHD community following his exit.

“The amount of grown men who have messaged me saying I’m their inspiration is overwhelming,” he said.

A Love Island spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on any individual’s medical records owing to confidentiality and our own duty of care towards the islanders, however we have rigorous and extensive checks in place to assess islanders’ physical and mental health in advance of being cleared to enter the villa. This is something we take extremely seriously. 
 
“As we said at the time, Jacques made the decision to leave and we respected that decision.

“Islanders are welcome to leave should they choose to do so and we would never put pressure on someone to stay in the villa.”

Love Island continues at 9pm on ITV2 and ITV Hub.

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