Joey Essex has spoken about the pressures of being a reality TV star in the wake of Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis’ death.
Former The Only Way is Essex star Essex said that he had known and liked Thalassitis, who took his own life in March, and could understand some of the strain he was under.
He told The Sun: “I knew Mike well, I went to his funeral. He was a lovely boy.
“It was absolutely tragic and so sad. The pressure of being on reality TV is not easy. It can get you down.
“I got famous when I was 20 and It’s really tough. Everyone thinks they know everything about you.”
He added: “You are expressing your life to everyone. Everyone knows your full name, your previous girlfriend, who they are. It’s quite hard to know whether a girl likes you for who you are or if she genuinely likes you.
“I go out dressed like a robber, with a cap over my eyes and sunglasses on. I go to ridiculous lengths to not get spotted. I just want to live my life and be me.”
Essex, who appeared in Towie from 2011 to 2013, was known for his stormy relationship with now-ex Sam Faiers, who he even proposed to on screen.
He admitted: “Lots of times relationships happened because of reality TV, and they ended as soon as the cameras were off. It’s like Love Island.
“When we were on Towie everyone had someone they had feelings for. That’s what those shows are about — relationships, you have to do it.
“Everyone in the reality TV industry feels the pressure because you have to live up to the person people see on TV. It can get you down.”
Essex said that most of the women he now dates are involved in the entertainment industry in some way because he feels anyone “normal” struggles to understand his life.
Many reality stars have spoken out about a lack of support with mental health issues in the wake of Thalassitis’ death, but Essex said that he was happy with the arrangements on Towie.
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He said: “On Towie there was always a lady I could speak to if I was upset about stuff.
“I was living my life on TV and there were always times when I was a bit down. I would rather get one of my mates round and talk to him. That’s how I dealt with it.”
But he added: “Money definitely doesn’t buy you happiness. I was just as happy when all I had in the world was £10 as I am now when I’ve got cars, watches, houses, all I ever wanted. People think money will make them happier, but it doesn’t.”