Watch: Robbie Williams opens up about the heartbreaking impact of fame on his mental health
Trigger warning: References to suicidal thoughts
Robbie Williams has revealed the mental health struggles of him and his Take That bandmates on breakfast TV. The singer, 48, was on the Good Morning Britain show to promote his upcoming Netflix documentary.
The new as-yet-untitled documentary series is set to be released in 2023 and promises to follow the ups and downs of Williams’ 30 years in the limelight.
Speaking to host Richard Arnold in a pre-recorded interview, Williams spoke of the difficult experiences both he and his Take That bandmates faced at the height of their boyband fame.
The pop star reflected on Take That’s 25-year career in the entertainment industry and spoke candidly about the devastating mental health struggles the band suffered.
"Look at Take That. Mark Owen's been to rehab and had his struggles, Gary [Barlow] has talked about his bulimia and "Howard [Donald] talked about wanting to commit suicide after Take That ended. And then there's me..."
Williams’s fellow bandmate Mark Owen, 50, has addressed his alcohol addiction in the past.
The pop singer was 38 when he first checked himself into rehab after admitting that he had a drink problem and had cheated on his wife and mother of his two children, Emma Ferguson.
"In rehab, I was able to look at my behaviour, at who I was and who I wasn't. I'd kind of become this person I didn't really recognise. How did that happen?” Owen said afterwards.
And Take That’s lead singer Gary Barlow also struggled with the spotlight.
Barlow, 51, discussed his battle with bulimia when his music career entered a rough patch following the band’s initial breakup.
His eating disorder followed a period in which he was dropped by both his UK and US record labels and Barlow suggested that the eating disorder served as some kind of unhealthy coping mechanism. "Being sick was a punishment for me. I didn’t want to mend it. Bizarrely, I wasn't unhappy doing it. It was good that it hurt."
Howard Donald also revealed that he was devastated when Take That decided to call it quits.
Years after the band’s split, Donald admitted that he had contemplated suicide straight after the break.
"I didn’t want us to split. I walked out the hotel and I wanted to throw myself into the Thames... but I thought, 'Knowing me I'll end up in the middle of the river and the tide will go out and I'll be in the papers stuck in the Thames mud looking like a c**k,'" he told British Magazine Q.
Williams has been very open about his ongoing battle with mental illness and his history of depression and anxiety.
“I’ve got a disease that wants to kill me and it’s in my head, so I have to guard against that," he said.
And when his fame was at an all-time high, the pop star hit his lowest point.
From 2006 to 2009, Williams battled agoraphobia. The social anxiety disorder left him housebound for three years.
“My career had gone stratospheric and taken me to Mars, and I needed some time to get my equilibrium back and get myself back together.
“It was my body and mind telling me I shouldn’t go anywhere, that I couldn’t do anything. It was telling me to just wait — so I literally just sat and waited,” he said.
Williams revealed music was the only thing that made him feel better.
The lyrics: 'And sometimes I get nervous, when I see an open door,' from the song Human by The Killers inspired Williams to seek help and restart his career.
“I remember listening to that Killers song and something in that moment made me think, ‘I had better get my arse in gear, put an album together and tour,’” he said.
After further therapy sessions, Williams made his comeback in 2009 and thinks that his reunion with Take That also played a part in his recovery.
“It wasn’t an easy process, it was like having a car crash and then learning how to walk again.”
Now, Williams is looking out for fellow boy-banders, One Direction.
"Time will tell. It's still pretty much early days even though the band have been split up for a while. I wish them love and I wish them safety. They're all good boys."
If you are in need of support, you can call the Samaritans day or night, 365 days a year for free on 116 123, email them at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
Mind's helpline is 0300 123 3393, their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and their website is www.mind.org.uk.
If you think you may be suffering from mental health problems, you are also advised to speak to your GP.