MEGAN Barton-Hanson has revealed she sees a therapist once a week after Love Island to cope with depression that has left her feeling so low she asked her mum for permission to die.
The 25-year-old was catapulted to fame last summer and won a legion of fans thanks to her overt sexuality, straight talking and stunning looks – but behind closed doors she was secretly struggling with low self-esteem and crippling depression.
Speaking to The Sun Online as part of our suicide prevention campaign, You’re Not Alone, the reality star has shared her own mental health battle and revealed why she believes it’s so important to “maintain your mind” in a candid interview.
She said: “After Love Island it was obviously a whirlwind experience and when I came out I got burgled and went through a break-up so now I am seeing a CBT therapist.
“I see her once a week. It’s about maintaining my mind and keeping it in a good place.”
Megan already knew the importance of therapy as three years before the show she reached rock bottom after a break-up and was things got so bad she was left feeling suicidal.
She told us: “It was three years ago, a January.
“I just didn’t know what my direction was. I was a little bit lost. I was like what am I going to do now. I think I had turned 21. I was just so unhappy and kept thinking why do things keep going wrong in my life.
“I went to my mum and basically asked for permission saying ‘I really don’t want to be here anymore’ and she didn’t know what to do and I feel so guilty to this day putting that pressure on her but I am just so glad that I was open and honest with her.”
Fortunately Megan’s mum helped her see a way out and she started having therapy twice a week.
Megan was just 13 when she first experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness, which she now knows was the start of her depression.
“I knew from a young age that it was something I was going to have to deal with,” she told us.
“I think that is something you will have your whole life that you will need to battle with – it’s not like there is a quick fix and it is done.
“I just felt really low for an extended period of time. It wasn’t like I was super happy or super sad, I was just numb.”
When she reached 16 Megan realised she needed help but was reluctant to take medication so she started her journey with therapy.
She initially had six sessions on the NHS before discovering CBT (cognitive behaviour therapay), which she believes has really helped her.
“That’s when I discovered CBT and that really, really helps me because it changes the way your mind works,” she explained.
“For me my biggest problem is that I speak really negatively to myself. I am really kind to other people but I always put myself down.
“CBT really trains your mind to speak kindly to yourself and it’s like we all go to the gym and take care of our bodies, so we should definitely take care of our mind. For me that’s what therapy is, it’s like working out your mind.”
In less than two weeks’ time a fresh batch of singletons will be heading into the Love Island villa.
The upcoming series has been tainted by the tragic suicides of two former contestants- Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.
Megan is hoping the recent events will make everyone think twice about people in the public eye.
“I feel people don’t think people in the public eye don’t get down or sad,” she said.
“When I first came out I was worried because you are given this amazing platform and you feel this guilt for feeling down. You shouldn’t.
“People need to understand that just because we are in the public eye, we are not invincible. We still have days where we are down.”
Since being on the show, Megan has taken the time to reflect on her own experience of feeling suicidal and wants to share the message that no one is alone.
She said: “It makes me sad that I felt like that and that’s my biggest message to people. How I felt in that week and that day – I couldn’t see it getting better but thank God that I told my mum, thank God I did something about it.
“But it’s awful, it’s like a dark cloud you can’t see your way out of but you can. It will always get better
“Never give up. If you went to the shop and spent £100 on clothes or you went and got your hair dyed and that cost £50 you wouldn’t think twice.
“But to invest in yourself and go to therapy… I used to begrudge it but really we should put ourselves and our minds first. It’s the most important thing.”
She concluded: “There is no point having nice clothes and the outside shell looking nice if inside you feel awful.”
Big life events, like a death in the family, divorce and redundancy can leave people feeling vulnerable and trigger mental health issues.
But we can all do our bit to help prevent deaths from suicide.
That’s why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign, to remind those in the grips of mental illness that there is hope and to encourage people to watch out for the warning signs a loved one could be in trouble.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
Got a story? email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us direct on 02077824220.
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