SHE is seen by many as telly’s responsible head girl, but for years Holly Willoughby has been struggling with a secret inner turmoil.
Now the This Morning presenter has opened up about how her drive to be perfect left her “addicted” to feeling detached from reality.
In her new book Reflections, she confessed: “I wasn’t present in my life. Something was missing. There were moments when I felt a bit like a spectator of my own life. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t depressed, it was just a feeling of being a little adrift.”
The star told how she first learned to detach in childhood as a way to mask her dyslexia. At school, she would shut down and not ask for help when she needed it — but says no one else would have realised what was going on.
Holly, 40, added: “Without even really noticing it, I was using detachment as a way of coping.”
The presenter told how her issues and a fear of the cancel culture while hosting This Morning led to her losing her voice. She said comments she made would be cruelly twisted on social media — leaving her censoring her own opinions.
Holly said: “I find myself almost regurgitating what other people have said because I don’t know what I want to say any more.”
This fear also led Holly to ditch her showbiz agency and start her own firm, called Roxy.
In Reflections, Holly wrote: “I hadn’t realised I’d lost a part of me when I gave up responsibility to someone else, but now I am regaining that.”
She also shared an incident where an unnamed colleague left her feeling deflated. The mum-of-three told how, moments before going onstage at the undisclosed event, the person had criticised her. They added that they would be there to save her if she messed up — leaving the TV beauty feeling disrespected.
She said: “When they left the room, I cried. I shouted. I called that person every name under the sun and I could feel my anger pulsating through my body.”
Holly felt the colleague would not have treated a male co-star like that. As one of the country’s most in-demand presenters, Holly has a heavy workload, including hosting ITV’s This Morning and Dancing On Ice. But she admits all the time away from husband Dan Baldwin, 46, and kids Harry, 12, Belle, ten, and seven-year-old Chester, has left her with “mum guilt” at times.
She wrote: “I worry about what people think, and for a long time I adapted the way I behaved to limit the guilt that I felt.”
Being a hugely popular face on telly has also come with pressure on her appearance. To retain her fresh-faced look, Holly admits she gets a monthly “collagen wave” facial to keep her skin looking youthful.
The treatment uses radio frequencies to tighten skin tissue and can cost up to £550.
And she hasn’t ruled out getting cosmetic procedures as she grows older. She said: “I probably will indulge in a few — I’m reserving the right to decide how I feel about that when I get there.”
I worry about what people think, and for a long time I adapted the way I behaved to limit the guilt that I felt.
Holly is also a fan of alternative therapies, which include a quartz charm she wears while presenting This Morning. She also admitted on air earlier this year that she puts a crystal under the pillow of her son Chester to ward off nightmares.
This month, on the website of her wellness company Wylde Moon, she told how she healed herself through alternative therapies. She was introduced to them after meeting a kinesiologist — someone who studies the movement of the human body — in Australia while filming I’m A Celebrity in 2018.
On her website she said: “I really started to unlock pieces of myself and when I came back to England, I knew that I didn’t want to stop everything I had learnt.
“Now I have things in my own hypothetical toolkit, such as meditation and sound baths, that really work for me.”
Another big change in her life has been her decision last year to ditch showbiz agency YMU after 13 years — which she shared with her co-host Phillip Schofield. The talent management giant also represents Ant and Dec, Claudia Winkleman and Graham Norton. She has now started her own all-female agency called Roxy, where she manages herself.
A source close to Holly said at the time: “Her taking control back does not surprise me — it feels natural and like the logical next step. She has been after a better work-life balance for a while and thinks this is the ideal next step.”
Holly has also told how the #MeToo, movement, which battles sexual harassment, was a watershed moment for her — and how she chose to represent the linked #TimesUp campaign at the 2018 Brit Awards by carrying a white rose.
The campaign was promoted by Hollywood stars including Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman.
But after the awards, Holly was horrified when a paparazzo tried to take pictures up her skirt.
At the end of the night, cameras were held low to get a photo up our skirts . . . times apparently up on #TimesUp.
She decided to speak out, tweeting: “At the beginning of the night, we held white roses and walked down a red carpet full of the hope and pride that comes with the #Time’sUp campaign.
“At the end of the night, cameras were held low to get a photo up our skirts . . . times apparently up on #TimesUp.”
- Reflections, by Holly Willoughby, is out now, priced £20.
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