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The singer, who joined the group after they formed on The X Factor in 2011, announced she had quit Little Mix in December 2020.
In a new interview with The Guardian, the singer opened up about the circumstances surrounding her recent departure.
The 30-year-old recalled that she came to the decision to leave the band after suffering a panic attack while filming the music video for their 2020 hit single “Sweet Melody”.
She told the publication: “I did the music video and had a panic attack, and it was pretty mental that day.”
“God, I haven’t really spoken about it and I’m getting upset. Sorry,” she continued. “After the video I just got back in a really dark place and ended up back in hospital. That was when my mum said, ‘No more.’”
Prior to the incident, Nelson had been admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt in November 2013, which she has since revealed was due to the abuse she was receiving on social media.
The singer added that before she had a chance to tell her bandmates – Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall – about her decision, they had told her mother that they thought Nelson “should come out of this now”.
“I had already decided. Then the girls spoke to Mum and said, ‘We think Jesy should come out of this now. She has to look after herself,’” said Nelson.
When asked whether her exit was “their decision as much as hers”, the singer replied: “Yeah.”
She continued: “I know there are people who think I’ve let the other girls down, and that I’m so selfish but I do think there comes a time in life when you do have to be selfish and look after yourself, and it was really affecting me mentally.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the Romford-born musician criticised The X Factor for not giving its contestants – including herself – psychological support.
“I think they should have a therapist there and – whether you like it or not – while you’re in that process you have to go see them,” she said.
Nelson is set to release her first solo single, however, an exact release date is yet to be announced.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.