Strictly Come Dancing's head judge Shirley Ballas has opened up for the first time about her struggles with mental health.
In a candid interview with Top Sante magazine, the dancer and Strictly newcomer admitted that she hit a low point in her battle with anxiety two years ago, and found herself struggling to function.
Shirley revealed, “I’ve had anxiety in the past and two years ago I wasn’t in a great place. Without a stable mind, it’s difficult for anything else to function."
She went on to confess that she found her mental health issues resurfacing when she landed the top job on Strictly in 2017.
However, the 54-year-old shared that she's since found ways to cope with her struggles, employing a few simple strategies when she gets anxious.
She said, "I meditate and take time for controlled breathing.
“This was especially useful when I started Strictly – my first TV job. I was as nervous as the celebrities.”
Shirley Ballas also addressed the stigma around mental health.
“People get embarrassed about admitting they feel low but you can’t help the way you feel. Which is why exercise, taking vitamins and having time out for meditation are so important.”
It's not the first time that mental health issues have impacted Shirley's life; her brother, David, took his own life 14 years ago at the age of 44 after struggling with his own mental health.
Speaking about his battle, Shirley has previously said, "He had issues, and our family failed to recognise them.
"And as a family we didn't really speak about these certain issues. It was a very very sad day...and still, to this day, extremely painful."
The mum-of-one has also previously spoken about how close she was to her late brother, revealing that he encouraged her to pursue her passion for dancing.
“He encouraged me, and was strict with me and firm with me. He was my father and he was everything and anything you would ever need in a brother.
“In later years we talked every day at 4pm.
“He was two years older than I was and an amazing, amazing man.”
For more information on mental health visit mind.org.uk. If you're struggling with your mental health you can talk to The Samaritans on theirnational freephone number, 116 123, or if you're over the age of 55 you can contact The Silver Line on0800 4 70 80 90.
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Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.
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