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Monday, December 5, 2011

Andrea McLean: I suffered from post-natal depression in secret for three years

To millions of viewers, and even the people closest to her, Andrea McLean looked the picture of happiness. She’d just had a daughter and was back on GMTV, presenting the weather with as wide a smile and as bubbly a personality as ever.

But between TV slots, and in the rare moments the busy mum-of-two got to herself, she secretly broke into sobs, overcome by devastating feelings of worthlessness.

“I felt rubbish as a mother and useless as a wife,” recalls the Loose Women presenter, who is married to builder Steve Toms.

“It was a dark time for me. I felt completely down and miserable, but I didn’t want to burden anyone with what was going on.

“So in breaks on the show I would run to the loos and cry my eyes out.

“I’d cry and cry, then take a deep breath and sort myself out and go back out with a smile on my face.

“No-one knew what was happening. I managed to hide it very well, for a long time.”

Andrea, 42, was suffering from post-natal depression and is only now able to talk about those dark days.

It started when her daughter Amy, now five, was a few months old and she lived with the burden for almost three years before seeking help.

“I put up with it for far too long,” she admits. “Of course I thought it was insane, I wasn’t myself at all, and I knew it wasn’t right. But I kept thinking: ‘This will pass, it’s only a phase, I’ll be fine’.

“Steve was sort of the same. He thought I’d be fine if I could just pull myself together. So it went on and on.”

Eventually, Andrea, who launches her own jewellery range on QVC this week, realised she couldn’t carry on that way. “I didn’t tell anyone,” she recalls.

“Not even Steve. I went to my doctor and explained how I had been feeling for such a long time.

“She explained that it sounded like post-natal depression. It was a relief to hear, because I knew then I could do something about it. She told me not to worry, not to be embarrassed and she reassured me instantly that it could be fixed.”

And within a month, Andrea, who also has a son Finlay, 10, from a previous relationship, was getting better.

She says: “My doctor put me on medication and after about four weeks it was as if a switch had been flicked and I was coming back to myself.

“Of course, I couldn’t come off the medication straight away just because I was feeling better, I had to do it properly. But I realised I had kept quiet for far too long.”

Looking back, Andrea realises what she went though might partly have been down to the fact she returned to work so soon after Amy was born.

“I went back after three months,” she says.

“So it’s no surprise I felt so exhausted and anxious all the time.

“I was getting up at the crack of dawn and looking after a tiny baby at the same time.

“But I’m realistic too. If I hadn’t gone back, I wouldn’t have got paid.

“In the business I’m in, if you don’t work, you can’t pay the mortgage, it’s as simple as that. They’d have found someone else. It was always going to be tough, but I really felt I had no choice.

“People still don’t know how difficult it was, or the details of what I was going through. Steve knows of course, and I’ve given my parents an idea of it.

“But most people close to me don’t realise I actually had post-natal depression all that time.

“I think a lot of women who’ve been through it were probably the same.

“It’s not something you want to tell everyone about, especially not when you’re in the middle of it.”

Two years on, and fully removed from the exhausting hours of breakfast TV since moving to Loose Women in 2008, Andrea has left the trauma behind her.

And yet just months ago, she was fighting for her life after having an unexpected reaction to anaesthetic used in an operation to remove a huge umbilical hernia that had also been plaguing her since Amy’s birth.

But since recovering from the surgery, Andrea has lost a stone in weight and found a new lease of life now the constant stomach discomfort is gone.

“After all that, the most important thing that’s happened is that I just worry less,” says Andrea.

“I’ve always worried what people thought, that people would think badly of me if I said this or did that, but now, I can honestly say I don’t really care.” And a set of stunning naked photos taken for a magazine are proof of that.

“Even two years ago, there’s not a hope in hell I’d have posed for pictures like these,” laughs Andrea.

“I’d have been mortified. Even if I had done it, I’d have been cringing about what people were saying. Now though, I’m happy to do it. I’m in a lucky enough position that I can have a great photographer capture how I look at a particular point in my life.

“And sorry, but I think they’re nice, and it will be nice for me to take them out of a drawer when I’m 84 and remind myself what I was able to scrub up and look like when I was 42.”

Having achieved a perfect 10 figure over the past few months and putting the trials of early motherhood behind her, Andrea has resolved not to have any more children.

“I got incredibly broody two years ago,” she recalls.

“I was 40 and it was as if my biological clock was going absolutely bonkers – I was smelling babies everywhere and was desperate for another.

“But it wasn’t the right thing to do, and I’m completely over it now. Of course, part of it is the fear of things in the past happening again, the post-natal depression, the sickness from the hernia.

“But part of it is just down to the stage I’m at in life.

“Now Amy has gone to big school, I’ve got the day to myself.

“I’ve been blessed with two lovely children, and gone through very difficult births with both.

“So I’ve decided not to push my luck. I’ve been through enough with it all, and I realise how lucky I am.”

Andrea is also loving work at the moment. And who wouldn’t? Last week she got to meet man of the moment Gary Barlow on Loose Women. “I was so excited!” she laughs. “I was determined to be really grown-up and professional about it, because I’m supposed to be – it’s my job!

“All was going well until we were walking off the set after the interview, and he said: ‘Do you remember we met a few years ago?’

“I had to calmly say: ‘Oh yes, I remember now that you mention it,’ when inside I was actually screaming ‘Of course I bloody remember! You’re Gary Barlow! It’s been seared in my memory forever!’

“And after that, I was even less cool and got four autographs – one for my best friend, my sister, my sister’s best friend, and of course one for myself.

“I always loved Gary, even in the early days. I thought he was quite like me – not the mouthy one, always a bit subtle.

“Of course we’re not exactly alike.

“I haven’t sold millions of albums or won millions of awards for my amazing pop songs. But apart from that, I think we’re pretty similar.”

As well as her TV work, for the first time Andrea has also launched her own jewellery collection Diamonique for QVC.

“I love all the pieces,” she says. “I brought along all my own jewellery and pictures of stuff I really like from magazines, and we designed this gorgeous, really feminine collection.”

Moving on from the problems she’s faced, Andrea is determined to be more fearless in the future.

And she is pouring her energy into supporting her close friend Angela Gregg, 46, who is battling an inoperable brain tumour.

Andrea says: “Watching what Angela is going through, I realise there’s no point wasting my time worrying like I’ve done for most of my life.

“I’ve signed up to run a marathon to raise money for Brain Tumour UK, we’ve already raised £30,000 with a charity ball, so we’re really pleased.

“The thought of a marathon is terrifying, but I think I’ll half jog, half power walk and get round eventually.

“I’ve realised you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got in life.

“Angela is such an inspiration and all the rubbish I’ve been through in the past couple of years has made me stronger and more confident than ever.”

Christine Bleakley says Daybreak was ruining her looks and her friends are surprised she stuck it so long

Christine Bleakley has spoken for the first time about being dumped from Daybreak – and claimed she can’t wait to get her life back.

She revealed that she had been existing on just three hours’ sleep a night and the early starts were ruining her looks.

The TV star, who is engaged to Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard, is now looking forward to some lie-ins after being axed with co-host Adrian Chiles.

Speaking at the Women in Film and TV awards yesterday, she said: “I feel good – I’m looking forward to having my life back again.

"It’s difficult to explain – anyone who does night shifts or those kind of hours will understand it does start to take its toll on you, so I certainly won’t miss 3am starts.

"I’m naturally a night owl and my mates are surprised I made it this long on Daybreak – it’s been over a year of getting up at 3am and you start to go doolally.”

She revealed that even when she was exhausted she’d go to bed at 9pm and still be unable to sleep. She said: “I was living on three hours’ kip a night, so my skin and everything just deteriorated.”

Christine – set to host ITV’s Dancing On Ice alongside Phillip Schofield – claimed that her failure to excite the viewing public alongside Daybreak co-host Adrian was something she had accepted.

“I understand telly,” declared the 32-year-old. “I’ve been doing it since I was 17 and things change and evolve. If they didn’t I wouldn’t be doing Dancing On Ice for a start.”

Christine and Adrian make their final appearance on Daybreak on Monday.

Frankie Sandford's a sexy Santa on comeback gig for Saturdays

FRANKIE Sandford made her Saturdays comeback on the first night of the girls’ UK tour yesterday, with boyfriend Wayne Bridge (right) sending her flowers.

Frankie, 22, who has been battling a mystery illness, joined yummy mummy-to-be Una Healey on stage for a sexy Santa-themed evening in Bournemouth.

Flaunting their risque take on Father Christmas, the quintet were on fine form, working through their hits with a particularly energetic performance of Ego.

But ex-boyfriend Dougie Poynter nearly spoiled her triumphant return when he lifted the lid on how their traumatic break-up had hit him really hard.

While in the jungle, the McFly and I’m A Celebrity star, 24, told TOWIE’s Mark Wright he had been hitting the bottle when he and Frankie were together. He said he loved drinking “just a bit too much” and felt like an “empty shell” before booking himself in for treatment.

Dougie added: “I felt sad all the time for, like, years of my life if I really think about it. I loved being by myself and getting battered.”

And Dougie admitted his problems got even worse when he split with Frankie after two years together.

He said: “That’s when it escalated. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin any more. So I went and saw this bloke and he sent me off to rehab.

“It was hard. It was really hard, in fact. But it was also one of the best things I ever did.”

I'm A Celebrity: Mark Wright's chat-up lines work on every girl - Arg reveals all on his best mate

I’m A Celebrity fans may have groaned in disbelief at the cheesy chat-up lines Mark Wright used to charm glamour model Emily Scott – but one viewer knew line for line what was coming next.

Best friend James “Arg” Argent has been the 24-year-old Essex lothario’s wingman since the pair met in their teens.

And Mark, who shot to fame on ITV2 reality show The Only Way Is Essex, sticks to such a rigid chat-up script that, watching back home in the UK, Arg was able mouth his best mate’s words as he delivered them.

Wedding singer Arg, 23, says: “I knew the second Emily walked in he’d try and charm her.

“I could see it in his eyes. He had this grin which comes out when he’s about to start flirting.

“From the minute I met him he’s always been the same – cocky, confident, good-looking and a major hit with the ladies.

“He just never fails, he’s never been turned down. His routine would be exactly the same with any girl he wanted to charm – he’s never intimidated.

“It wouldn’t matter whether it was Eva Mendes who had walked into the jungle, Mark doesn’t get intimidated. If Kate Middleton walked into a room, he’d try to pull her from Prince William.”

Arg continues: “Mark’s really superstitious – he’s got a bit of a routine whenever he needs to gather some courage together before making his move.

“He makes a weird symbol with his hands where he makes a cross sign with his fingers and then licks his thumbs. I don’t know where it came from but he’s done it whenever he’s nervous for as long as I can remember.

“Then he goes up to the girl, introduces himself, compliments her and flashes a smile. From the age of 15, when he met his first girlfriend, he has never, ever been knocked back by a woman.”

Mark’s growing fondness for Aussie star Emily, 28, has been the big talking point of this series.

The hit ITV1 show has had 11 million viewers on the edge of their seats waiting to see how the big romance would pan out after Mark bombarded the blonde with compliments and chat-up lines.

Mark has donated the red gilet from his I'm A Celebrity promo shoot to our Christmas appeal charity auction for Age UK on eBay. Click here to find out more and consider making a bid

Arg says: “When he first started chatting to Emily I knew where things were going.

“I can tell how much he likes her from the way he was talking to her and from his body language.”

Fortunately for the self-confessed mummy’s boy, his jungle romance has the seal of approval back in Essex.

Arg says: “Carol, Mark’s mum, would love him to bring Emily home after the show finishes.

“They are a close family and Carol really wants him to meet a nice girl. She’s the kind of mum where as long as Mark’s happy, she’s happy, too.

“It means a lot to Mark that his friends and family like his partner. I’m not sure whether he could be with someone they disapproved of. Fortunately, I’ve heard Carol likes Emily already from what she’s seen.

"When she visits I know they’ll all do everything they can to get to know her and make her feel at home.”

Nightclub promoter Mark insisted that he hadn’t gone into the jungle looking for love but he was instantly smitten by Emily. He will get his chance to woo her properly when she heads over to England in a couple of weeks.

“He’s secretly a big romantic,” insists Arg. “People misjudge him a bit – he genuinely tries his best to treat a woman right. On a first date he almost always goes for the same routine – a three-course meal and wine at a posh restaurant, a drink at a classy bar afterwards.

“He’ll probably wear his blue suit with a white shirt, arrange for a car to pick the girl up, and make sure she’s dropped off home afterwards.

“Believe it or not he never tries his luck too much on a first date, although the next date could be a different story.

“But Emily doesn’t need to worry, Mark is always a perfect gentleman on a date. He doesn’t have a little black book that he’s trying to fill. I’d love to meet Emily and I know if Mark brings her over he’ll want to introduce us. She’ll have a great time in Essex, Mark will make sure of that.”

But if Emily wants to keep the former Tottenham Hotspur apprentice’s attention, Arg warns that she’ll need to play a little hard to get.

He says: “Mark was always the best looking lad in school, great at football, he always got all the girls and a lot of the other lads wanted to be more like him.

“From the beginning he’s been popular and confident. But there is one way to get under Mark’s skin – ignore him.

“It happened with Lucy Mecklenburgh. He was texting her and she didn’t reply for days on end. It drove him mad.

“He’d be saying, ‘I don’t understand, what’s going on?’. He was totally hooked because he couldn’t quite work her out.

“If Emily doesn’t reply to his texts for a few days he’ll get so into her I can see him jumping in his car, going round to see her and asking her to marry him.”

Mark’s undeniable charm catapulted him to fame in TOWIE, which he recently quit amid rumours he has landed his own reality show. And that same combination of cheek and wit has also made him the bookies’ favourite to be crowned King of the Jungle tonight.

Emily got booted off the show four days ago and Mark may be shocked to learn she is already thinking about a long-term relationship – and starting a family.

She told I’m A Celebrity hosts Ant and Dec: “I like the intimacy of a relationship and the stability. I’m looking forward to kids.

“I was thinking about not being with someone at Christmas, too, but I’m looking forward to flying somewhere... like England.”

Arg says: “It probably wasn’t his plan but you never know. You can fall for someone overnight.”

And it wouldn’t be the first time that Mark had taken a spontaneous big step. He shocked TOWIE fans earlier this year when he unexpectedly popped the question to his on/off girlfriend Lauren Goodger.

Mark and Lauren's engagement party

Arg says: “He hadn’t told a single person he was planning to do it.

“It was an amazing shock but he’s secretly a romantic, spontaneous, passionate person.”

Sadly, the engagement ended almost as quickly as it began and controversy followed after Lauren claimed to have had an abortion.

The round-the-clock flirting between Mark and Emily obviously irritated ex- fiancee Lauren, who brushed off the romance this week, saying: “Mark gets bored easily. It will be another one next week.”

But Arg hopes his pal’s stint on I’m A Celebrity has shown a different side to his personality. He says: “Sometimes Mark feels he has to be a tough guy but I know him – he is a very sensitive person. The jungle has shown that.

“He screamed like a little girl during one trial – people love that. I’m confident he’ll be the King of the Jungle.”

Then Arg can look forward to a reunion with his best mate - and a return to their favourite boys' nights, a hugely embarrassing secret he keeps from all ladyfriends.

Best mate Arg reveals: “Mark’s big secret is his lads’ sleepovers – he’ll be so embarrassed now his girlfriends have found out. We’ve always done them and the last was about a month ago. 

“We share a bed and watch a movie – last time we saw the Disney film The Mighty Ducks on DVD.”

Jason Derulo racks up £44,000 bar bill

BEING Jason Derulo is thirsty work.

Hence he and his entourage clocking up an impressive bar bill of £44k on a fairly average Wednesday night out.

The 22-year-old singer’s table generously bought 210 shots for clubbers at London’s Aura nightclub, and a few thousand personalised bottles of champers during a single night in the capital.

Which all adds up to one helluva hangover.

And it is not the first time Jason has enjoyed a big (spending) night out in London.

In July we told how the Don’t Wanna Go Home singer racked up a £38,000 bar bill at London nightspot Merah.

The lengthy receipt included a a £28,000 bottle of bubbly and 40 Red Bulls.

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