James White/Cosmopolitan
July 01, 2014 07:00 PM

Nicole Scherzinger looked practically purr-fect onstage with the Pussycat Dolls while in her 20s.

Yet once the lights dimmed, the singer and former X Factor judge says, she went to unhealthy measures to stay slim, battling bulimia for eight years before finally getting help.

“I had such a great life on the outside, the Dolls were on top of the world, but I was miserable on the inside,” she reveals in the August issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.K. “I m never letting that happen again.”

Scherzinger, 36, went public with her bulimia struggle in 2012 and admits talking about her long-secret eating disorder is still difficult.

“It is such a horrible, paralyzing disease and it was such a dark time for me,” she says. “I didn’t think anyone knew in my group or in my family because I hid it that well, I was so ashamed. I knew it wasn’t normal or healthy because I was hurting myself through this cycle of disordered eating. It was my drug, my addiction. It’s an endless vicious cycle.”

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Nicole Scherzinger is on the cover of the August issue of Cosmopolitan in the U.K.
James White/Cosmopolitan

She says it took blacking out while on tour to finally wake up to her problem.

“I had started losing my voice, I couldn’t sing at shows, and then I remember my manager finding me passed out on the floor in Malta or in the south of France,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘I’m going to lose everything I love if I don’t love myself.’ ”

Today, Scherzinger is healthy, but admits that despite her outgoing public persona, deep down she is a shy person.

Nicole Scherzinger discusses her battle with bulimia in Cosmopolitan
James White/Cosmopolitan

“I get past my shyness by making everything about others and not thinking about myself,” she says. “That’s what I did on The X Factor – I can be goofy and playful when it’s about the acts. They are like my babies. But when I’m off stage I’m not as big and animated … for me all my smiles and confidence are a triumph because it came from a broken place.”

Another thing that makes her smile? Her seemingly on-again relationship with British Formula 1 racer Lewis Hamilton.

“Well, it’s something crazy romantic,” she says. “Relationships are hard and having to hold a long-distance relationship is even harder … But I’m good and I’m happy.”

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