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truly talented
post May 27 2017, 10:11 AM
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In the weekend part of the Times, under Body & Soul.

Will Young: “It was important for me to leave Strictly for my own wellbeing”

Most of us still think of Will Young as a youthful popstar. In fact, it was in 2002 that he won the first series of Pop Idol and the singer is now 38. How does he feel about approaching 40?

“There is a thing that, gosh, you are 38, you’re over the hill in gay land,” he says with a smile. “But I bloody love it. I like being a man of 38. It’s cool. I’m a grown-up.”

With a scrubby beard and hair that’s been peroxide blond since February, Young is affable, alternately garrulous and guarded, his accent still that of a posh boy from Hungerford, and his speech peppered with language common to those who have had a lot of therapy. He says he is in control of — or at least understands — himself now.

For Young has had more than his share of psychological problems since he won Idol and became a favourite with teenagers and their middle-aged mothers. Things seemed to come to a head when he quit Strictly Come Dancing for “personal reasons” last year, after he was criticised by one of the judges, Len Goodman.

“It was important for me to leave Strictly for my own wellbeing,” he says, carefully. Was it family or relationship problems, or a flare-up of old anxieties?

“It was a number of things. It was nothing to do with the people on the show, and it certainly wasn’t because Len Goodman dissed my salsa — I mean, come on! I love dance, and because of the stuff that was going on personally, I just wasn’t enjoying the dancing.”

Young suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that manifested in frightening conditions called “derealisation”, where sufferers see other people and the environment around them as dream-like and unreal, and “depersonalisation” where they feel detached, observing themselves and their feelings and thoughts as if they belong to someone else. For Young it meant that he couldn’t recognise himself in the mirror. He also had addictions to alcohol, shopping, porn and even love.

Last year, he says, he read some self-help books and realised that his anxieties and addictive behaviours were symptoms of trauma, which enabled him to master or at least recognise them. “I read these things very quickly and it was, like, ‘Oh, I get it,’ ” he says. “ ‘That’s why I watch a lot of porn — I’m a porn addict. Shit, didn’t realise that. That’s what goes on with the love [addiction]thing — didn’t realise that either.’ I kind of dealt with it all in nine months.”

Young has had therapy and believes that the trauma originated at birth. He was born ten minutes before his twin, who had pneumonia, and was taken and put in an incubator. “I think that created a nervous system that was on edge, and understandably so,” he says. “Trauma lies beneath 99.9 per cent of addictions.”

His solution to mastering his trauma was somewhat unconventional. He saw a shaman. “I heard about her and thought, ‘I’ll give it a go.’ I don’t talk about what happens in the shamanic process because it goes beyond words.” This seems to have been a one-off course of treatment, while therapy for his PTSD (much of it apparently group-based, so also not up for detailed discussion) is ongoing.

When he was single a year or so ago, Young, who came out in 2002 shortly after winning Pop Idol, was using the Tinder dating app a lot. “I said to a friend of mine, ‘I’m famous, but I would quite like to go on Tinder.’ He said, ‘F***ing go on Tinder then, who cares?’ So I did and it was brilliant, hysterical.” He had some dates, but wasn’t on the app long enough to become dependent. “Those things are conduits, not places to have relationships — the same as being in a bar can be a conduit or being set up at a dinner party.” He is in a relationship now, but won’t say where he met his partner, whether he’s famous or not, or whether he shares Young’s homes in London, Oxford and Cornwall.

He will be performing at the Hampton Court, Latitude and Hay festivals this summer, singing cover versions rather than his own songs. He will also be giving talks about wellbeing at other festivals. “I don’t use the word mindfulness because it is a phrase that is misleading,” he says, seemingly unaware that his own website talks about “Will Young mindfulness talks this summer”.

He has a new record deal and remains enthused, but hard-headed about what he calls his “job”: a 16-year career and an estimated £13.5 million fortune is pretty good for a reality TV show winner.

He says we all have addictive behaviours — he could still potentially spend £200 on socks in Sports Direct, but now he will recognise it as a sign that he is avoiding something else. If he suffers social anxiety, about going to the pub with friends, for example, he won’t fret and overanalyse it. He barely drinks now anyway, having quit drinking and smoking on his last tour, playing the master of ceremonies in the musical Cabaret, although he has since taken up tobacco again. “I think that’s fine after three years of not being able to recognise your own face,” he says.

Will Young’s perfect weekend

Toast and Marmite or green juice?
Green juice. God, I can’t believe I’m saying that

Tube or taxi?

Reality TV or period drama?
Period drama

Twitter or telephone?

Quiet night in or red carpet night out?
Ugh, not red carpet. Can’t think of anything worse. I’d rather have a good old dance

Gardening or cooking?
I don’t enjoy cooking, but I love gardening. I’ve just planted all my sweet peas and lupins, from seeds

I couldn’t get through the weekend without . . .
A cigarette

This post has been edited by truly talented: May 27 2017, 10:15 AM
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post May 27 2017, 11:00 AM
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Thanks TT - ages since we had an interview biggrin.gif
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truly talented
post Jun 3 2017, 08:47 AM
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Good supportive article from Lorraine Kelly.

Almost eight months down the line we discover that, as I had expected all along, Will’s crippling mental health problems made it impossible for him to continue in the stressful and competitive show.

If Will, really was an ­attention-seeking narcissist then he would never have quit a show that gives contestants such a massively high profile and can also kick-start stalled careers.

It was a much tougher decision for him to leave and have to deal with the barrage of criticism that ensued.

And Will really did get a kicking from people who thought he was acting like a big spoiled brat.

There was more to Will's exit than met the eye

This week, the truth emerged and Will described himself as ­suffering from “horrific” post- ­traumatic stress disorder.

He developed a stammer and became crippled with fear at the thought of stepping on to the dance floor.

He actually seriously considered breaking his own leg so that he wouldn’t have to ­compete in the show.

This was clearly someone really struggling to cope and sinking into a deep, dark abyss.

It’s easy for ­outsiders to think Will was over-reacting and of course there are always those who will tell people like him to pull themselves together.

But that’s just about the worst thing you can say to ­someone struggling with any type of mental illness.

Will admitted he was in a very dark place

hey need understanding, ­sympathy and an environment where they can be honest without being judged.

Thanks to people such as Will, who has opened up about his ­condition, and trail- blazers such as the award-winning actress Denise Welch, we are getting far better at acknowledging those who are ­living with mental health problems and giving them sympathy and understanding.
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post Jun 4 2017, 11:29 AM
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Thanks for those TT, i knew there had to be a genuine reason for quitting, cos Will has never been a quitter heart.gif and that's a lovely article from Lorraine too. biggrin.gif
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Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 27th June 2017 - 08:49 PM