Jesy Nelson decided to quit Little Mix after hitting “breaking point” while filming the video for their number one hit, Sweet Melody.
The 29-year-old singer has opened up about her December departure from the group for the first time and said it followed weeks of an “extreme diet” to prepare for their video shoot for the song, which was released last year.
In a veiled dig at ex-bandmates Perrie Edwards, 27, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 29 and Jade Thirlwall, 28, she said: “The last music video we did was the breaking point.
“We’d been in lockdown, and it was the first time I could have a break and be at home around people that I love.
“It was the happiest I’d ever felt and I didn’t realise that until I went back to work, I immediately became a different person.”
Jesy, who was put in the band on the UK’s The X Factor in 2011, previously told how she had been driven to a suicide attempt in 2013 because of relentless abuse online.
She has continued to struggle with body image pressures.
In a new interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, she explained: “I had anxiety. Whenever we have a music video I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight.
“I’d been in lockdown, and I’d put on a bit of weight but I didn’t care. And they said, ‘You’ve got a music video in a couple of weeks’ and I just panicked.
She added, “I went on this extreme diet, with bloody shakes, and tried to eat as little as possible.
“On the day of the Sweet Melody video I had a panic attack on set because I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself.
“I was sobbing in the dressing room. Someone really close to me said, ‘This has got to stop. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You’re going to end up where you were before.’
“For me that was the pinnacle point. I was like, ‘I need to start taking care of myself now because this isn’t healthy.’
“It wasn’t nice for the other three to be around someone who didn’t want to be there.”
Since quitting the group for the sake of her mental health, she has been in the studio working on solo music.
But she has defended her decision to forge on with a singing career, insisting she only left Little Mix because of the pressures of being in a girl group.
She said: “I feel like there’s been a few people who don’t understand why I left Little Mix but am now in the studio making music.
“A lot of people said, ‘I thought you came out of the band to focus on your mental health?’
“For people to think that I would just stop working completely is crazy because me working on my mental health is going to the studio, and creating music that I love.
She added, “That’s what clears my head and makes me happy. It’s good for my mental health.
“I need to do things that make me happy now and people might think that’s selfish but sometimes in life you have to put yourself first, you have to love yourself, you’ve got to do what makes you happy.
“I didn’t know that I could be this happy. I thought when I was in the group that it was just normal to feel that way. And because I’d felt like that for ten years I just thought, ‘This is life.’ Since I’ve left, I feel free.”
The June issue of Cosmopolitan is on sale from May 6.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission
Originally published as Little Mix star reveals ‘breaking point’