Ella Henderson opens up about Ikea panic attack and her journey to work on anxiety

·4-min read
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Ella Henderson during HITS Radio's HITS Live 2021 at M&S Bank Arena on November 19, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for BAUER)
Ella Henderson during HITS Radio's HITS Live 2021 in November. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for BAUER)

Singer Ella Henderson has spoken out about her panic attack in an Ikea store in LA, and says she feared speaking out about her anxiety in case she was 'pushed to the back of the list'.

The 26-year-old singer — who shot to fame on the 2012 series of The X Factor at the age of 16 — said she now thinks anxiety is something she 'carried with her from a young age but something she bottled up', because she didn't want to sound like she couldn't cope.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast, the 'Ghost' singer said after leaving Simon Cowell's Syco record label after six years, she had 'no pressure' on her, sitting down with her management team to work out what was next.

Read more: Ella Henderson was 'ready to quit music' before lockdown

She said: "[This] is when I had the first sense of bubbling away, which I now know was anxiety. And I think it's maybe something that I carried with me from a young age, but it's something I bottled up and maybe hid because we didn't really talk about it."

WATCH: Ella Henderson on the magical moment she got back behind the piano

Saying she didn't want to sound like she couldn't cope because she was young, or because she was a woman, she said: "I just used to think maybe I'll start getting shifted to the back of the list and stuff, if I started to say how I actually felt."

Working in the studio next door to her at the time were Rudimental, who she describes as 'incredible writers and DJs', and who she ended up touring with despite only knowing her from her song Ghost when they first met.

Ella Henderson performs live on Day 2 of the Isle of Wight Festival 2021, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight . Picture date: Saturday 18th September 2021. Photo credit should read: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment
Ella Henderson performs live on Day 2 of the Isle of Wight Festival 2021 (David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment)

She said: "They'd never seen me on X Factor. So I told them my whole story. And that was it, we spent the day in the studio just watching all my auditions back and laughing and chatting about it all."

She toured with Rudimental in 2018, telling Thornton that although she had 'found her people again' she was still 'terrified' to get up on stage again.

Listen to the full episode to hear Ella talk about being on 'X Factor' at 16 with Rylan and James Arthur and how she made the decision to leave Simon Cowell's label

White Wine Question Time Banner
White Wine Question Time Banner

But then on what she describes as 'a very random trip to LA' over the Christmas period, she said she also had a lot going on in her personal life too and ended up having her first panic attack in an Ikea store.

She told Thornton: "Honestly Kate, I thought: 'This is it. I'm going in Ikea.'"

She ended up in a hospital and woke up to doctors asking her if she suffered from anxiety and was she taking any medication.

"I was like what?" she told Thornton. "That's not me, I'm bubbly. I'm this person. And I'm fine. I'm here in LA, life's good, I have just signed a new deal. It was something I just couldn't believe. And I didn't believe it for ages."

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 08:  (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED)  (L to R) X Factor finalists James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas, Rylan Clark and Ella Henderson attend the Kardashian Kollection launch for Dorothy Perkins at Aqua on November 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
X Factor finalists James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas, Rylan Clark and Ella Henderson at the Kardashian Kollection launch for Dorothy Perkins in 2012 in London. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

She said after eight or nine months she sat down with her management and decided to just 'step back from everything'.

Henderson added: "I tried to just carry on, and let it be a thing that was happening in the background. But it would affect me so much."

After spending the pandemic at home with her parents, Henderson started working on music again, and is releasing her latest album Everything I Didn't Say this month.

She told Thornton her work on herself was still not done even though she had 'come a long way'

She said: "I'm still on that journey now. It took a lot of sitting down and being really honest with myself, which is really hard, and being honest with my family with my team.

"And realising that I'm not letting anyone down, I think for ages I felt quite guilty."

WATCH: Ella Henderson on teenage success, her lockdown romance, and overcoming anxiety to return to music

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