You may know him as one of Made In Chelsea’s likely lads, or for pulling shapes on Strictly, but behind closed doors TV personality, Jamie Laing, has bad days just like the rest of us. CALM caught up with Jamie about how he manages his anxiety and why he’s learning to open up to his mum without treating her like his therapist.
Jamie is a busy guy – he’s even on the move while we talk on the phone, admitting his brain goes 100 miles an hour, 100 percent of the time. But after struggling with anxiety for ten years, he’s finally starting to slow things down a bit, making his emotional health a priority. For Jamie, recognising and accepting he was experiencing anxiety was half the battle:
“My anxiety started when I was about 21. I had my first panic attack and I didn’t know what the hell it was. You think you’re dying or having a heart attack. I didn’t speak about it for six months because I thought I was different, or that nobody would understand what I was going through, because I didn’t understand it myself.”
For many, Jamie’s experience will feel relatable. The racing heartbeat, or sense of impending doom that often comes with a panic attack can make it pretty hard to rationalise what’s going on. Anxiety can feel alienating sometimes, but it’s important to realise that you’re not alone. When Jamie realised these feelings weren’t going away on their own, he turned to the person he trusted most:
“The problem with anxiety is that if you let it simmer it tends to get worse. I was so used to instant relief that I thought my anxiety would just disappear. Then when I was about 27 I went through depersonalisation, where you go into a dream-like state because of stress or anxiety. Eventually I told my mum and she suggested we talk to someone about it. That was the beginning of my journey into understanding what I was going through.”
And he knows that this anxiety can find its way into how you feel about your physical appearance as well – we can start to feel that we need to change or we’re not enough. “We all have insecurities, we will worry about stuff. We all feel we’re not tall enough, or we’re not this enough, or we’re not that enough.”
He has felt that first hand. For Jamie it was his hair. He was teased by friends that it made him look older and opted for a hair transplant – something he now regrets.
“I went through this operation because I thought that actually ‘Oh, God, it will sort of help me with my insecurities’. I only did a tiny bit at the front of my head because I didn’t really need it but it was a pretty gruesome experience – six months of pain. It made my head swell up and it was just so intense. I wish I had been given advice and more information like Sons provide – and I would have realised I did not want or need to go down this route of having a hair transplant. It would have saved me a lot of money, a lot of stress, a lot of pain and a lot of time.”
These experiences have made Jamie acutely aware that there’s power in opening up to others about our emotions, while staying mindful that everyone has bad days:
“When you’ve never experienced something before you tend to internalise, but It’s so important to open up to people without allowing your friends or family to become your therapist. I turn to my mum and sometimes that’s easy for my mum and sometimes it’s hard, because everyone has good days and bad days. It’s great to remember that.”
Learning to live with his anxiety rather than cure it, Jamie has found peace in accepting it’s just a part of life. Instead of fearing his feelings and wanting them to go away, he’s built up an arsenal of things that he uses to make himself feel better when he’s feeling overwhelmed.
In the spotlight from a young age, it’s taken Jamie a while to find what fundamentally makes him happy, something which has changed as he’s got older. From attending weekly therapy sessions, to surrounding himself with community, he’s learning what makes him tick:
“It’s important to have friends or someone that you can speak to, because we’re tribal people and I forgot that for a while. Being part of a community has really helped me. Instead of reaching for what I thought was happiness, which was trying to be successful, it’s the little things in life that really matter. Being loving, loyal, empathetic, having good friends and your family round you.”
Having experienced ups and downs with his own emotional health, Jamie wants to use his experiences and platform to drive positive change. He’s passionate about supporting charities like CALM, putting mental wellbeing on the map and making people feel a little less alone with their feelings. His advice to us on the bad days?
“Life will throw you a couple of curve balls but you’ll get through them. I was always told that feelings are like a cloudy day – past the clouds are blue skies, it’s just about finding your way to them. Sometimes that takes a while, sometimes it takes years, but you will find your way back to the blue skies.”
If you, or someone you know is finding anxiety challenging or you’re struggling to open up about something, we have a page full of advice that can help.
And if you need to talk we’re here to lend a listening ear, no matter what. Our free, confidential helpline and webchat service is run by a trained team and is open every day from 5pm until midnight.
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