Strictly star Tom Fletcher ‘highly emotional’ after ‘struggling’ with health – symptoms

Strictly: Tom Fletcher is eliminated from the competition

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Throughout his nine weeks on the BBC dancing show, Tom said that going out on musicals week, with a dance that “genuinely meant something” to him was special. The McFly star, and professional partner Amy Dowden, danced to On My Own from iconic musical Les Miserables which was dedicated to the star’s West End performing sister Carrie Hope Fletcher. But up against rival Rhys Stephenson, the dance was sadly not good enough. After performing the routine the first time around, Tom admitted that he was trying to hold back the tears, after promising bandmate, and former Strictly champion Harry Judd, that he would “not cry on Strictly”. However, it is through being “highly emotional” that Tom first discovered he had bipolar disorder.

Talking emotionally to Fearne Cotton a few years back, Tom recalled the time in his career when he noticed that he was “struggling more than other people”.

The star continued to say: “Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been highly emotional. I’d feel excited one moment, then the polar opposite the next. But I think everyone just thought that’s who I was.”

For Tom, mood swings were not his only issue. When enjoying his first glimpses of stardom, the star explained that his weight also “became an issue,” so much so that he stopped eating and “basically just drank coffee”.

Speaking more about his mental health struggles, that led to him sometimes not wanting to get out of bed, Tom said: “It was so unhealthy.

“I would struggle with down periods —I’m sure I was a nightmare to be with, but I kept much of it from Giovanna [his wife].

“Like many men, quite often I would hide it from the people I was closest to. In late 2011, I watched a documentary by Stephen Fry called The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive. He shared his story of bipolar disorder and depression, and it sounded exactly like me. I just cried.”

Hearing others talk about the disorder, Tom was inspired to seek his own help, but even after talking to a therapist Tom was reluctant to share his diagnosis.

He continued to say: “I’d never thought about it being a definable mental health condition before, and I decided to speak to a therapist.

“For a long time, I still didn’t tell anyone about it. I was later diagnosed with bipolar. When I told my friend, Harry, he said: ‘Ahhh, that makes so much sense.’

“Since then, more and more people have spoken out about their mental health. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

The singer revealed that it was medication, and physically admitting that he was struggling, that changed his outlook, so much so that even his closest friends and family started to notice a change in his attitude.

“I think it was Harry who said, ‘You’ve got your laugh back. You haven’t laughed like that in four years,’” Tom elaborated to say.

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What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings. Formerly known as manic depression, it can include emotional highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression).

These “episodes” of mood swings can occur rarely or multiple times a year, and individuals have the condition for a life-time.

When depressed, individuals may suddenly feel a sense of hopelessness and lose interest or pleasure in most activities.

When manic, individuals may feel extremely happy, have lots of energy and spend large amounts of money on things they cannot afford. For most people, a manic phase is a positive experience, but others experience symptoms of psychosis.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic states that those who experience euphoria, also suffer from an emotional crash straight after, leaving them depressed and worn out.

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Patterns of behaviour are known as either rapid cycling or mixed state. Rapid cycling is where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between. Whereas a mixed state is where a person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together; for example, overactivity with a depressed mood.

There are several different ways to treat bipolar that can help make a difference in the individual’s life. The NHS explains that medicine – known as mood stabilisers – often help to prevent episodes of mania and depression.

Psychological treatment like talking therapies are also extremely successful and help individuals to deal with depression, and improve relationships with loved ones.

To seek help confidentially, call the Samaritans free on 116 123. Individuals can talk to them 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Or visit the Samaritans website or email [email protected]

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