STRICTLY Come Dancing's John Whaite was left feeling suicidal and quit fame to live on a farm after winning The Great British Bake Off.
The 32-year-old chef won the popular series in 2012, and was yesterday confirmed to be the first ever male celeb to be paired in a same-sex couple on Strictly.
Since finding fame, John has been open about his mental health battle and has discussed suffering from bulimia and suicidal thoughts as recently as 2019.
After Bake Off, he returned to university to do his barrister training but ended up getting pneumonia from stress – leading him to drop out of the law course.
John added: "I kind of felt like I’d failed. And I felt suicidal. I really really did think I was going to end it."
He recalled sitting down with his partner Paul about needing to escape the UK and "be with nature", so he relocated to Canada and volunteered on a farm he found through a worldwide programme.
I kind of felt like I’d failed. And I felt suicidal. I really really did think I was going to end it."
John shared: "They were really strict, it was get up at 6.30, make breakfast, have coffee together, out by 7am, have the animals fed and it really was the most grounding experience because it was… I’m not going to lie, it was privileged escapism.
"There are so many people in this country and in the world who would go through the same mental health issues that I’ve been through and wouldn’t be able to afford to take the time to do that or leave their kids. So I must acknowledge it was privileged, entitled escapism.
"But I was lucky enough that I was able to do it and yeah, working on the farm was just, it was just so grounding, you know to be with animals that we relied entirely on, on me to help them and to feed them and to clean them."
Contact the Samaritans
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact The Samaritans on 116 123.
They are available for free at anytime.
Or email https://www.samaritans.org/
Elsewhere on the Life On A Plate podcast, John spoke out on his eating disorder, sharing: "If I’m going through a particular period at work or where I feel that I’m out of control and everything’s sort of spiralling, I’ve noticed that that’s when the bulimia will kick in.
"It’s a coping mechanism. It’s a kind of strategy of staying in control. So it’s just about recognising those triggers and you know, taking a step back.
"I remember after Bake Off when I was writing my first book, I was testing a recipe for some English muffins and it went completely wrong and rather than just walk away and go and see a pal or have a pint, I just sat there, cried and I forced all 12 of these muffins down, and then had to go and, you know, purge.
"It’s just about recognising that… It’s a frenzy. Bulimia is quite a frenzied… it’s almost like a shark attack. Like, my eyes glaze over. So I kind of just have to breathe and take a step back."
John broke down in tears on Instagram yesterday after he was confirmed for Strictly, sharing: "It's a dream come true and it's even more of a dream to be doing the first all male partnership.
"There will be kids watching thinking it’s OK to be who you are. So thanks for all the messages, I'm going back to bed now."
Other stars to be announced so far include popstar Tom Fletcher, and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
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