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  • hello and welcome to ways to change the world.

  • I'm Krishnan, Guru Murthy, and this is the podcast in which we talked to extraordinary people about the big ideas in their lives and the events that have helped shape them.

  • On my guest this week is a pop star TV presenter, um, a former child star, Frankie Bridge.

  • And she's here because she's just published.

  • This is called Open while asking for help can save your life.

  • And it's It's a really brilliant on surprising book because it's very, very open and straightforward about your own experience with mental health, from childhood, right through to break down on afterwards.

  • Thank you very much for coming in to do this for having me.

  • I mean, why have you done the book first fall?

  • I think because one of the biggest things with depression and anxiety is it could make you feel really alone.

  • And you feel like all of these feelings and thoughts that you're having no one else has ever had the same on Dhe.

  • This is my way of kind of putting it out there for anyone that needs it about to be like, No, I feel the same you know, on your own.

  • And this probably more people than you think it is Very, very accessible.

  • I mean, I read it kind of thinking.

  • Well, you have you written this for teenagers?

  • Well, young people, but actually is, like, sort of went further, like this is good for anyone.

  • Yeah, at first.

  • Actually, I originally wanted it to be for younger people because I feel like had I have known Maura about depression anxiety when I was younger, maybe I wouldn't have ended up having a mental breakdown.

  • But then, as time went on, I feel like it is just a general thing.

  • You know, adults and young people suffer from Andi.

  • I would have had to have left parts out about pregnancy or whatever that we're all part of my journey.

  • So it just kind of made sense to it's for anyone, really?

  • On how big a decision is, It's just lay it all out.

  • I mean, you know, you take, you've been in reality TV programmes about you know, s club in the Saturday and your life.

  • But actually talking about this stuff is different.

  • Yeah, you know what?

  • I went into it really naively.

  • I knew it was a big deal.

  • I've been asked to write books before and stuff, and I've never really wanted to, you know, But this one.

  • First of all, I didn't want to use a ghost writer because it's something really personal on.

  • I've never written a book before, so I went into that blindly thinking that would be easy because, you know, I loved writing stories when I was a teenager, totally not the same.

  • And also, I find my mental health really easy to talk about.

  • And it doesn't affect me mentally.

  • Actually, writing it down did I think it was a mixture of reliving those things, learning new things because I went through my doctor's notes with my therapist and psychiatrist on also, just the pressure of, you know, producing something that I told editors and the public that I was gonna produce and it having to be decent.

  • I've been aware actually, before talking to people on the podcast about mental health, often with books.

  • But asking people those questions about this stuff is in itself.

  • It can be quite difficult.

  • So you mean you're on your So you're on a public city tour at the moment for you and that makes you re address and rethink and relive quite a lot of the difficult things that it does here.

  • And I think it also makes people feel comfortable to come and speak to me about their issues, which is lovely, and it's kind of the whole point of the book, but it also it makes me happy that people feel that they hadn't talked to May.

  • But it also makes me sad that so many people are suffering and so many people don't really know where to go, how to deal with it.

  • Now we're recording this in January in February.

  • Hopefully, when this is released, we'll be doing this sports relief challenge.

  • Money that's being raised by that challenges is largely going to mental health projects.

  • Is that what you're doing?

  • Yeah, definitely.

  • When they asked May I had actually just got back from tracking the Himalayas.

  • Well, and it was like a day after I got back, I think I was in bed of my manager, rang me and said, Well, we've got this thing and I just laughed.

  • I was you serious?

  • Just kind of hima liars.

  • I'm actually I the good thing about thes challenges there so far out of my comfort zone that they take all of my anxiety boxes on.

  • I love proving my anxiety wrong, and every time I do that, it gives me confidence to do that again.

  • I am.

  • So there's that received for myself and also yet 100% its offer to raise awareness for mental health.

  • And how could I say no access?

  • Well, I won't about because I mean what One of the reasons I said yes to it is because, you know, we have a lot of conversations about mental health of the moment and lots of people doing interviews like you are about their own lives.

  • And politicians say yes, you know, we must treat mental health just the way we do physical health.

  • But I still feel there's a massive gap on that.

  • A lot of it is talk.

  • Yeah, um, that the reality hasn't really caught up it, hasn't it'll?

  • No.

  • I'm, um, an ambassador for mind.

  • And actually, at their last mind awards, the big thing that everyone was talking about was Okay.

  • We've got everyone to their stage where people are feeling like they can talk about it.

  • Stigmas starting to go a bit.

  • People are now asking for help, but the help isn't there.

  • So now there's that next hurdle that we need to get over.

  • And I do.

  • I think we will.

  • I hope we will.

  • But I don't know how that's gonna be achieved.

  • Well, let's talk about your experience.

  • I mean, in the book, you talk about your worries.

  • Have you always had worries far?

  • Yeah.

  • I always say I came out the womb anxious.

  • Just people.

  • Where I've been doing a lot of interviews about the book.

  • They're like, Well, they must have bean something that happened in your life that started this and they're honest tables in I had a happy childhood.

  • My parents were around and I just was It just is May I feel like it's my personality.

  • I over think everything.

  • And I just managed to find the bad in any situation.

  • And I've just always been that way.

  • But you weren't depressed as a young child.

  • Nice to work.

  • You're anxious.

  • Yeah.

  • Yeah, I was just anxious.

  • You know which book a holiday.

  • And I'd be worrying about that flight for the year leading up to that holiday.

  • Or I think a lot of it came from also worrying about everyone else around.

  • May a mom, Dad, my sister Happy.

  • Is everyone healthy?

  • And yeah, when I look at it now, I feel a bit sad for the fact that I was so young and I thought so deeply about everything.

  • But it just was Who I waas What?

  • Why does somebody who is outwardly so confidence on concern and down some before and could do from a very young age?

  • Yeah.

  • How could that be compatible with also having these crippling worries?

  • I have no idea.

  • I asked myself this all the time.

  • Sometimes I think maybe it's partly to do with being on stage and being out the kind of b of a version of yourself you know, pretending to kind of be confident.

  • Um And then also, I think a lot of it comes with that that praise and need to be liked almost, you know, and there's nothing.

  • There's no bigger way to get that in the standing on a stage and people clapping and cheering.

  • I think that's not why I got into it.

  • So I was so young.

  • I don't think I thought about it that much, but I just enjoyed it, and then I've just kind of fell into it from they're on because I do think a lot of people in our industry or quiet like that.

  • Normally they're quite shy when you meet them outside of a work situation.

  • And, you know, I don't know.

  • You were very young when you started doing professional.

  • 12.

  • Yeah.

  • How did that happen?

  • I'm well, I used to go to just a local dance school.

  • And then there's the teacher there, pulled my parents in one day and said, We think you should send her to a stage school.

  • And so my parents, they were a bit shocked, asked me if I would like to go and I was up.

  • Yeah, okay.

  • But obviously was expensive, and they were concerned that I'd go with and no enjoy it.

  • So I joined a local stage goal and then the Pam was So when you go to secondary school, you can audition for Sylvie, Young Italia Conti or ever.

  • But then this open audition for esque of Junior's came about on Cbbc on DDE just the night before.

  • I was like Should we go for it.

  • Andi did, and then I got in.

  • So there wasn't that much thought that went into it, You know I wasn't.

  • Yeah, I wasn't like when I was younger.

  • It was Oh, you're either gonna be a musical theater or like a cheese string advert.

  • There was no like, though one became pop stars.

  • You know, there was no pop idol or anything s club juniors Waas sort of.

  • Ah, sort of.

  • Ah, brand spinoff s club seven.

  • Yeah, with well, did it have Ah, reality TV series around it from the beginning?

  • Or was that something that Yes, so they followed us from the beginning.

  • So from the auditions, see, babies followed us fru of that stage and then continued to do so throughout the first couple of years of our career.

  • Don't actually know how long they did it for you.

  • Pressured in existence was that for a 12 year old it it wasn't because there was no social media on where we were so young people weren't allowed to write about us.

  • There was no daily mouth.

  • Things were uploaded instantly, so I just had no idea I was just in this bubble of not going to school in love in my life, like we were tooted.

  • But, you know, I was just doing what I loved.

  • And, um, Simon fellow was very strict on who was around us.

  • We never chopped or changed like our team.

  • So I felt really secure and safe.

  • And I said, When you're that young, you just that I had no idea how successful we were until afterwards, and I think that's quite nice, because s club juniors became s Club H.

  • Yeah, Um, and so you're performing all the time?

  • Yeah.

  • Have stadiums and arenas.

  • Yeah, we did arena tours.

  • That was that.

  • One of the first things we did.

  • So what I mean is, you know, do you think the pressure of all of that had anything to do with your mental health?

  • Now, which is which?

  • Mm.

  • I don't know.

  • Who knows?

  • I think because I was already that way inclined, I think either way, whatever career I ended up in or whatever relationship I ended up in, maybe I would have ended up having a breakdown or developing depression further down the line, just for different reasons.

  • But I do think obviously being in the public eye being written about spoken about people's opinions being thrown at you all the time.

  • It obviously if you're a person that already over, thinks what people think of you, it's gonna make that worse.

  • But that was something that came later on.

  • Yeah, Escape Junior is definitely not.

  • So at what point did you start seeing psychologists and doctors and thinking about medication?

  • It wasn't until I was in the Saturdays.

  • Quite early on I How old were you when you joined the Saturdays?

  • Think I was 17?

  • I get re.

  • I'm so rubbish with timelines.

  • I think it's about 17 or 18 because we were together for about a year before anyone even knew about us.

  • Um ah, nde We wish we were really exhausted after doing.

  • You know, you do well that the clubs and the Younis and whatever, and it was quite a big shot cause in s club juniors, you're only allowed to work five days a week, certain amount of hours a day.

  • You're only allowed to be on camera for a certain amount of hours, and you have chaperones that stay on top of all of that and obviously being a child.

  • I couldn't wait to grow up.

  • And I hated having a chaperone there and then in the Saturday So I was like, Give me a chef around.

  • You know, I want to be on 20 workers sent about a times and, um yes.

  • So that was a big shock, I think.

  • Going from that change over on dhe, I went to the doctor's just in canals, exhausted, and he suggested I go and see a therapist.

  • I just thought, What is he talking about?

  • For me, a therapist was for, like, crazy people when I wasn't crazy, and I wasn't I was fine.

  • But then I think for about a year after that I started noticing that I was able to function at work.

  • But the minute I got home, I was just a crying mess because with the Saturdays also came out of hood, I'm being ableto live hard party hard.

  • Yeah, relationships, all of that.

  • Yeah, and I think that was a big part of it is Well, you know, you're working really hard.

  • You are going out after work and staying up late.

  • You're trying to navigate relationships in the public high as a teenager take their heart anyway.

  • And then with everyone talking about you at the same time.

  • See, it was a weird part of life, but it took me a long time to realize what was going on with me mentally.

  • What point you start to realize for you need more help.

  • I think, Um, me and my boyfriend at the time just kind of realized that I was just actually coming home and was unable.

  • Thio have conversation.

  • I wasn't hungry.

  • I didn't want to eat.

  • I just wanted to get in bed and cry myself to sleep.

  • After a while.

  • We were like, That's not normal, obviously.

  • Um, but you just put it down.

  • You just make excuses for it.

  • So a lot.

  • I mean, when you say Christ, obviously it would that happen from time to time.

  • I know, Like, three months?

  • Yeah, pretty much nightly.

  • Every night.

  • Yeah.

  • And by day, and being interviews and doing photo shoots and, yeah, smiling way and then crying at night.

  • Yeah.

  • It's weird how good you are at hiding it.

  • I'm I suppose it's a bit like people with addictions.

  • They're just so good at hiding it.

  • So then when I first went to the doctor's.

  • It was kind of a relief, but it took me a long time to find my groove like I didn't really like my therapist at first.

  • I refused medication at first because I didn't think I needed it, because again that to me would seem a failure at that time.

  • So it took me a long time to accept it.

  • Well, you're right about that.

  • I mean, what?

  • Why would going on medication be a failure?

  • Because I think a lot of people have a lot of opinions on antidepressants on Dhe.

  • I think it's changed a little bit now, but not massively.

  • And that's why I'm so open about the fact that I have and still do take medication.

  • I'm not saying everyone needs to take here, and it works for everyone.

  • It doesn't.

  • But if you need it, you shouldn't feel ashamed about it.

  • And people have this notion that you can't be on it forever, and my doctors just always been that way.

  • You wouldn't expect someone that's diabetic or an asthmatic to come off of their medications, so why you any different?

  • And I didn't have an answer for that.

  • So So how did you get over that feeling?

  • I am too.

  • Then decide to give it a try because the therapy just wasn't working.

  • I think I've done it for quite a few months, and I didn't feel any better.

  • If anything, I was probably getting worse, and I just still I just didn't want to feel like that anymore.

  • I wanted to go out to enjoy what I was doing.

  • And do you think the therapy was the wrong therapy or either Wrong therapists?

  • I think it.

  • I think the therapy helped office.

  • See, I had to get stuff off my chest, but yeah, it wasn't the right.

  • They're oppressed.

  • I then moved to a different therapists.

  • And that's the one that's in my book.

  • Andi, I think people just assume you goto one and there the