“I can see how ill I was.”
by Danielle Sinay
Zayn Malik seriously opens up in his memoir Zayn, bravely revealing that he suffered from an eating disorder during his final months with One Direction.
“When I look back at images of myself from around November 2014, before the final tour, I can see how ill I was,” he wrote. “Something I’ve never talked about in public before, but which I have come to terms with since leaving the band, is that I was suffering from an eating disorder.”
Zayn also explains that his eating disorder wasn’t necessarily a result of wanting to lose weight — he was simply craving control. “It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that, I’d just go for days – sometimes two or three days straight – without eating anything at all,” he wrote. “I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”
He eventually “lost so much weight” that he “became ill,” and credits the “workload” and “pace” of the musician lifestyle with his deteriorating health. Fortunately, now that he’s “older a bit more wiser,” his eating habits have improved and he’s proudly living a healthy lifestyle.
Later in Zayn, he discusses his choice to go public with his anxiety, writing that he “just couldn’t go through with it. Mentally, the anxiety had won.” So when one of his “team members” sought to release a statement that Zayn had “taken ill,” he decided against it once and for all.
“I was done with putting out statements that masked what was really going on. I wanted to tell the truth. Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of; it affects millions of people every day.” And he’s right – it is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s the most common form of mental illness in the country, affecting 80 million people in the US alone.
“I was blown away by just how many people got in contact, and how many people suffer from anxiety. It’s so common…Life bombards us with pressure—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… everywhere online there are unattainable body images that make us feel inadequate.”
Zayn’s fans, and total strangers, rallied to support him. Some revealed that they also suffered from mental illness, expressing immense gratitude that Zayn had spoken up.
“It felt as though some good had come from the situation,” he concludes.
And that it most certainly did — his brave choice serves as the important reminder that anyone can struggle with mental illness or an eating disorder, and that it’s okay. It doesn’t make you weak or mean that something is wrong with you, it simply means you need some extra support.
Just like Zayn said, “it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”