Over the past year, One Direction fans have become increasingly aware of former-member Zayn Malik’s battle with anxiety and an eating disorder whilst in the band. Zayn revealed his feelings of lack of control, which he combatted by controlling his food, in his memoir, ‘Zayn’, released in November last year. Now, Zayn’s bandmate Liam Payne has opened up about how he also struggled with his mental health during the peak of 1D’s career.
In an interview with The Sun, Liam said, “I shouldn’t have been able to do as many shows as we did, if I’m honest about it, if I’m brutally honest about it.
“Going out and putting that happy smile on my face and singing the songs, honestly, sometimes it was like putting on one of those costumes, going out there and, underneath the costume, people don’t really see what’s going on,” alluding to symptoms of depression.
He added: “The more we did, I just don’t think we stopped and celebrated enough how great things were and I think that’s what got on top of us in the end.
“It was like, ‘Oh, you’ve just won three EMAs, but get on the plane and go to the next place’.”
In hindsight, it was no secret that the boys were overworked. They were contracted to five albums in five years – a contract which, remember, youngest member Harry Styles signed at literally 16 years old – and then performed on four headline world tours in four years. No other artist works at that rate. It’s part of what made One Direction and their success so unprecedented, but it also eroded them to the point where they couldn’t carry on anymore, making a hiatus inevitable.
One Direction were worked into the ground; years of non-stop touring and recording obviously took its toll, yet this was largely overlooked by everyone, management, the media and fans included. As Liam suggests that he “shouldn’t have been able” or been allowed to do so many shows, he paints a picture of a situation where the boys’ well-being was overlooked by the bosses that booked the shows.
Of course, fans will remember the 2015 On The Road Again tour (the name of which feels slightly uncomfortable now), when the Belfast show was cancelled last minute, their first cancellation of a show in five years, when Liam had “taken ill”. It has now been revealed that he was struggling emotionally that day, which is what caused the cancellation. Liam said: “I let it get to me that day. I wasn’t in a good place.”
This is just another example of times when the boys’ mental health has been omitted from public conversation. Zayn’s battle with anxiety and an eating disorder were never properly talked about at the time, and even when he left the band in 2015 his serious reasons why were glossed over in a painfully simplified and impersonal statement. Only now are the boys speaking out.
Liam also addressed the band’s decision to take a break in the interview. He said: “Even though I know fans are not mad about it … we needed it. We needed a little bit of time away from each other.
“We needed a realisation point to find the love for it again, rather than it just becoming a job.”
Despite Liam’s notions of fans being unhappy over the hiatus, many have taken to Twitter to express their support for Liam, emphasising their absolute understanding of the band’s need to take a break.
it truly breaks my heart how overworked, tired and stressed the boys felt during 1d but ALWAYS made sure we were happy
— ruth (@fireproofruth) November 22, 2017
Many are also re-iterating the phrase that “1D deserved better” as they collectively realise the underlying problems that pervaded the band’s career.
How the hell didn't we notice that that speed was slowly killing their mental health? 1D deserved better and now I feel bad
— Maddie (@sweethesmendes) November 22, 2017
Ultimately, fans want what is best for the boys and will continue to support them in their solo pursuits. CelebMix offers our absolute support for Liam and admire his courage in speaking out.
Let us know your thoughts on Liam’s interview with a tweet over at @CelebMix.