Mel C on feeling she didn't deserve Spice Girls fame during battle with depression

Posted by
Hayley Spencer
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The Spice Girls’ career was a rollercoaster of success, which hit its first high note in 1996 when their single Wannabe made it to number one and remained there for two months. However, behind the scenes, band mate Melanie Chisholm was struggling to come to terms with fame.

In 2000 she was was diagnosed with depression, and now, in a new interview with Bryony Gordon, Mel C has spoken candidly about her mental health, and detailed her experience of an eating disorder and obsessive exercise while in the spotlight.

Chisholm is the latest guest on Gordon’s Mad World podcast, and in it she recalls her time in the girl group and how reading new stories about herself effected her mental state.

“What happened with the Spice Girls it's something that completely turned your world upside down and it was a fantasy, it was a fairytale, and it was something that I'd always wanted,” she explains.

However, the 43-year-old says her dreams also came with downsides she wasn’t prepared for. Negative press which she felt implied she was the “plain one at the back that didn't really do anything” left her feeling guilty and undeserving of her fame.

“So that all ended up in me not eating properly and exercising obsessively,” she explains. “I thought I had to be a certain way to be deserving of everything that was happening to me... to be a popstar I had to be perfect, and that was my way of trying to achieve perfection.”

Thankfully, Mel C sought help and received a diagnosis for depression, which helped her to come to terms with her condition.

“Literally my thoughts were 'I'm losing it, I'm going mad, I can't cope', so when I got home I went to my GP and for the first time ever I said out loud what was going on with me, and he said 'OK, well the first thing we need to address is your depression', and this huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

“I felt so relieved because I just thought oh my God it's got a name, it's something, I can be helped, you know, it was such a relief to me."

Chisholm was helped by therapy and anti-depressants and told Gordon she still sees five element acupuncturist Gerad Kite to help her cope with her mental health struggles.

The former Spice Girl follows in the footsteps of fellow pop stars like Ellie Goulding and Selena Gomez in speaking out and normalising mental health struggles for those in the spotlight.

Like Chisholm, Goulding has spoken about how her mental health has been effected by the pressures of fame and a feeling of not being good enough. 

“I think part of what sparked my panic attacks was not feeling confident enough to believe in myself—I was scared I wasn’t as good of a singer as everyone thought I was,” she wrote in an essay for Well + Good.

“And as the stakes grew, I was afraid of letting everyone, including myself, down,” Goulding added.

If you suffer from depression, experts advise that you visit you GP to explore treatments available.

You can find out more information – including a series of approved self-care tips – on the Mind website.

Images: Rex Features and Instagram