Sam Thompson shares his battle with ADHD and anxiety during school years

Sam Thompson has opened up on his battles with anxiety and ADHD during his school years, revealing he broke down in tears as he struggled to revise for his exams.
-Credit: (Image: PinPep)


The 31 year old felt he would let his family down if he didn't get accepted into university. Speaking at an event to launch the new Disney and Pixar film Inside Out 2 - in which he has a cameo role - he said: "I was anxious about my grades all the time."

"My grades sucked, I failed all of my A-Levels. I felt like I had to apologise to my parents that I wasn't going to go to university and I had so much anxiety about that."

"I think a lot of that was ADHD because I really struggled to revise and concentrate on a lot of things. With things like ADHD and anxiety, you overanalyse and over plan, and think about things which haven't even happened. You're always thinking five steps ahead, which can be quite detrimental."

Sam, who won I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last December, stars alongside Amy Poehler, who plays Joy. The film features new emotions Envy, Ennui, Embarrassment and Anxiety alongside Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

The Made in Chelsea star said: "I remember looking down at my textbook once and I cried into my textbook because the words won't go in. The words aren't going into my head and I couldn't understand why."

"I tried using coloured pens and post it notes, colour code everything, and nothing would go in. Now, I understand that I had ADHD and really struggled to focus. But back then, it came with so much anxiety."

Sam, who lends his voice to the character of Security Man Sam, shared that while his teachers were "lovely", they didn't quite grasp how to aid his learning. He explained: "I was slamming my hand down and couldn't understand why. The teachers were lovely, but I was from an era where it was just before people started understanding neurodiversity."

Reflecting on his school reports during his diagnosis for ADHD, he said: "We looked at years of my report cards and they all said the same thing. 'Nice guy, really likeable person, needs to apply himself more'. But they never knew why that was the case, and I used to get very frustrated."

Looking back at his time at school, Sam said his one piece of advice for youngsters growing up today would be to stop worrying about what others think about you.
Looking back at his time at school, Sam said his one piece of advice for youngsters growing up today would be to stop worrying about what others think about you. -Credit:PinPep

Speaking at an event at TikTok's London offices, Sam fondly remembered one English teacher Mr Balfour - who was strict but fair. He recalled: "He would really push me and tell me when I was doing well. English literature was the only subject which I got an A in, and he wrote to me during the summer holidays to tell me how proud he was."

He also spoke about another memorable teacher, Mr Foster, saying: "There was a stricter teacher during prep school. He knew I loved football so much, and I wasn't the best, but he always tried to put me in a good team to help with my mental psyche. I didn't realise at the time, but now I look back, that guy clearly understood me and saw how much sport meant to me."

Now older, Sam admits he has found ways to better manage his emotions. He shared: "I think a lot of it is realising we are all the same. No one is better than anyone else. I know this sounds so cliche, but the moment I turned 30, I stopped caring about what people thought."

Reflecting on his school days, Sam's advice to today's youth is to stop fretting over others' opinions. "Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. I still have that problem now, but if you're having a bad day, you feel the world is over. But two weeks later, no-one even remembers. That is something I'd tell myself."

"As someone who has been very open in the past about my own feelings, I've loved being part of a film that not only showcases all our thoughts and feelings, but celebrates them as well."

Sam will be attending the Inside Out 2 event alongside Amy Poehler, who stars as Joy, Pixar's chief creative officer Pete Docter, and director Kelsey Mann. Inside Out 2 is set to hit cinemas exclusively from Friday 14 June.