Dad-of-four Peter Andre has always been open about the challenges he faces in his personal life. But his recent admission could be his bravest yet.
Appearing on This Morning the singer described his battle with social anxiety and how the “crippling” condition had led to up to 20 panic attacks a day.
The star revealed how the hit daytime show had actually helped him put a name to what he was feeling:
“Ayda was on talking about how Robbie suffers from social anxiety any my ears pricked up and I thought: ‘What is going on here?’
“She started explaining that when there are certain events coming up, it’s a red carpet event or if there is a party, he will cancel last minute or something will happen and he will freak out and go ‘I can’t do it’
“And I went: ‘That’s what the label is, that’s what I’ve had all these years.”
Describing how his fear of appearing in front of groups of people affected his career, he added:
“I would literally at the last minute ring up Claire my manager and say ‘I can’t go’, I would say anything to get out of it because it was a social anxiety.”
The hitmaker also revealed how his struggle can be tracked back to his childhood growing up in Australia, and how self-conscious he felt about things that set him apart from the crowd:
“It was a very rough time, being Greek and having an English accent and going to a place in Australia where there were no ethnics, no Italians, no Greeks, and here I was, this outcast of a family. Yes, we were picked on.
“I don’t really have anything bad to say about that now. Because I understand that was the time but I had a knife held at me in Sydney which really scared me and started the fear of going to nightclubs and things like that.
“Anywhere there was people getting drunk and I didn’t know my surroundings.”
He also offered words of hope to anyone going through a similar situation, saying:
“I guess I’m here to say: People tell you it’s not curable, but that’s not true, it’s curable.”
With the help of medication – of which he is now free – and therapy, Andre was able to get his social anxiety under control. He said:
“Medication is a bit like sweeping it under the carpet. But I needed the medication to get me to the point where I could talk about what was causing my anxiety in therapy.
“Knowledge is key, once I understood what was going on… it changed over time, realising what the triggers are.
“I also thought, how many times have I been through a panic attack and nothing has happened afterwards?
“Understanding it’s not going to hurt you makes you stronger, it puts you in a better position.”
For more information and support on Social Anxiety Disorder, visit the NHS Choices website.
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