For Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson, there was a time when online bullying made her want to end her own life.
The 28-year-old singer opened up about her experiences with the downsides of fame during an interview with The Guardian published Sunday about the BBC Three documentary, “Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out.” The four-girl group shot to super stardom after winning the UK’s “The X Factor” in 2011, but Nelson would later recall thinking, “This is the worst day of my life.”
She first began to realize how cruel people online could be during the course of the show. Following the group’s first live performance of the season, she and her bandmates got together to watch a video of it on Youtube, she said. She recalled being “naïve” then, and expecting the comments underneath to be primarily about their performance; what she saw instead, she explained, was endless criticism about her appearance, and it was enough to make her regret being on the show.
“I felt a rush of anxiety, because I’d never experienced anything like that in my life,” she said. “People were saying my face was deformed — just the most horrific things. I felt like I was heartbroken. I remember ringing my mum and saying, ‘Mum, I want to go home, I don’t want to do it.’”
As the group continued to grow in popularity, Nelson, who used to be bullied so much during her time at school that the stress caused her to develop alopecia, developed an unhealthy routine of constantly reading the criticism she’d receive on social media.
“I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself. I’d type in the search bar, ‘Jesy fat’, or ‘Jesy ugly’, and see what would come up,” she said. “Sometimes I didn’t even need to do that, I’d just write ‘Jesy’ and then I’d see all the horrible things. Everyone told me to ignore it, but it was like an addiction.”
Nelson grew depressed at the outset of the group’s rise, and developed an eating disorder. A 2013 guest performance on “The X Factor” was met with an onslaught of criticism of Nelson’s looks, particularly when media personality Katie Hopkins referred to her as a “chubber” in a now-infamous tweet.
At the time, Nelson seemed to focus on the support of the group’s fans, telling the Huffington Post, “Our fans are literally amazing, they will defend us till the day we die. ... To be honest they are what keep us strong.”
But speaking to The Guardian recently, Nelson pointed to the aftermath of that performance as her breaking point, commenting, “I felt that I physically couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore.”
In "Odd One Out." Nelson spoke in-depth about that time in her life and how she became “severely depressed,” the BBC reports. Describing the moment she tried to end her own life, she said, “The only way I can describe the pain is like constantly being heartbroken. I remember going to the kitchen and I just took as many tablets as I could. Then my ex, who was with me at the time, he woke up and was like, ‘Why are you crying?’ I kept saying, ‘I just want to die.’”
She was taken to the hospital and recovered from the attempt. Nelson told The Guardian that although everyone around her knew about what she had done, “Once it was spoken about, it wasn’t ever spoken about again.”
Things did not get better for her until the band toured the U.S. with Demi Lovato, and the backup dancers were able to convince her to quit Twitter, she told the outlet.
“It was a long, hard process, because I didn’t want to help myself. But it wasn’t until I deleted Twitter that everything changed for me and I slowly started to feel normal again,” she said.
“Odd One Out” premieres on BBC iPlayer and on BBC One on Sept. 12.
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