Beauty, fame, money, a Formula One champion boyfriend and a successful career in the near-impossible to penetrate entertainment industry – from an outsider’s perspective, life for Nicole Scherzinger at 27 couldn’t be any more idyllic.
But behind the scenes, the former X Factor judge – then the lead singer of pop band the The Pussycat Dolls – was battling with a secret eating disorder she only realised she needed to face up to when she started blacking out backstage.
“I had started losing my voice, I couldn’t sing at shows, and then I remember my manager finding me passed out on the floor in Malta or in the south of France,” she told British Cosmopolitan of her struggle with bulimia.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to lose everything I love if I don’t love myself.’ One day when you feel like you’ve reached the end, you just say, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ It’s sad to see how I wasted my life. I had such a great life on the outside, the Dolls were on top of the world but I was miserable on the inside. I’m never letting that happen again; you only get one life – I was 27 only once.”
Bulimia is, in its very nature, a secretive mental illness that can go unnoticed by friends and family. Unlike anorexia nervosa, sufferers of bulimia don’t tend to experience the same fluctuation in weight loss and gain, making the disorder easier to conceal.
“I didn’t think anyone knew in my group or in my family because I hid it that well, I was so ashamed,” Scherzinger continued. “I knew it wasn’t normal or healthy because I was hurting myself through this cycle of disordered eating. It was my drug, my addiction. It’s an endless vicious cycle.”
Speaking about bulimia for the first time was a similarly challenging experience for the singer.
“It still is hard, and thinking about it I try not to well up,” she said. “It is such a horrible paralysing disease and it was such a dark time for me. That’s why I can empathise so much with people who have demons and voices in their heads, who aren’t nice to themselves. It robs you of living your life.
“But you can recover and you can get rid of it forever,” she added. “I did it and that’s why it’s so important for me to share my story. I felt so alone... but I made myself so alone. You hide it from the world, you isolate yourself. But you can beat it – do not give up because you’re so special and you’re meant for such great things.”“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses so often caught up in myths and misunderstanding; incredibly lonely and isolating illnesses they often go unnoticed and not spoken about,” Rebecca Field, a spokesperson for eating disorder charity BEAT, told The Independent.
“As the UK’s leading charity supporting those affected by eating disorders we understand the importance of raising awareness and letting people know that they aren’t alone in their fight against their eating disorder.
“It is an extremely brave thing to talk about and we really do appreciate Nicole bringing her story to the attention of the general public. Her positive story of recovery is such an important message to tell people about, to let them know that recovery is both achievable and possible.
“Beat provide information and support through helplines which people can call, text or email, a UK wide network of self help and support groups, online support and HelpFinder an online directory of support services. We are here if you’re worried about yourself or someone you know. Call 0845 634 1414, email email@example.com or visit our website b-eat.co.uk.”
The full interview appears in the August issue of Cosmopolitan, on sale 3rd July. Also available in digital edition on Apple Newsstand
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