Liam Payne Says He Hit 'Rock Bottom' and Suffered Moments of 'Suicidal Ideation' in One Direction
Prompted by isolation and heavy drinking, Payne says he reached an extremely low point while in the group. "I'm very good at hiding it," he said
Liam Payne is opening up about his mental health.
The "Strip That Down" singer, 27, revealed on Monday's episode of The Diary of a CEO podcast that the combination of fame, alcohol, and drugs brought him to "rock bottom" while he was in One Direction.
"I was worried how far my rock bottom was going to be. Where's rock bottom for me? And you would never have seen it. I'm very good at hiding it," Payne told host Stephen Bartlett. "No one would ever have seen it."
Asked if these low moments included moments of "suicidal ideation," Payne replied, "Yeah. There is some stuff that I have definitely never, never spoken about. It was really, really, really severe. It was a problem. And it was only until I saw myself after that I was like 'Right, I need to fix myself.'"
"There were a few pictures of me on a boat and I was all bloated out," Payne continued. "I call it my pills-and-booze face. My face was just like 10 times more than it is now. I just didn't like myself very much and then I made a change."
Together, the five British teenagers went on to become the biggest boyband in the world before their eventual split in 2015. Payne described the time as "wild," as he explained that the boys were typically unable to even leave their hotel rooms where he'd often turn to alcohol.
"So, at a certain point, I just thought 'Well, I'm going to have a party for one,' and that just seemed to carry on throughout many years of my life. And then you look back at how long you've been drinking and it's 'Jesus Christ, that's a long time,' even for someone who was as young as I was," he said. "It was wild but it was the only way you could get the frustration out in the day."
"As a teen, the one thing you need is freedom to make choices and freedom to do stuff," he added. "We were always locked into a room at night. And then it would be car, hotel room, stage, sing, f-ed. So, it was like they pulled the dust cloth off, let us out for a minute to go 'Woohoo' then it's like 'Get back underneath here!'"
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Payne - who also confirmed his split from American model Maya Henry on the podcast - also revealed that his struggles with alcohol continued during England's strict coronavirus lockdown. Having spent months working on new music, the singer decided to stop working because he felt exhausted. Yet it turned out to be "the worst thing in the world for me," he said.
"Having a lot of time at home - I think a lot of people had this same sort of thing: alcohol. It was just getting earlier and earlier and earlier. Easier and easier to go to," said Payne. "What I've found more than anything with the alcohol is boundaries. If you're on Zoom you can probably get away with being a bit tipsy, when you're not supposed to be.
"I put on so much weight," he continued. "I was eating badly and describing it as a bulking period - 'I'm doing it for a movie role! It's all good!' That's the best excuse if anyone asks if you've put on weight. Say it's for a role. It's coming out 2022."
Thankfully, this changed when Payne saw himself singing on TV and realized that he needed a dramatic change in lifestyle. He has now been sober for a month, started hitting the gym.
"I had a lovely phone call from Harry the other day," Payne said. "He was checking in on me. It's almost as if some people have got a sixth sense about when you're going through something and want to check in."
"He's very much like that. He's a lovely, lovely boy," he added. I love him to pieces."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.