Last June Zayn Malik opened up about suffering from anxiety when he cancelled a show in the UK. At the time he wrote:
“Unfortunately my anxiety that has haunted me the last few months around live performances has gotten the better of me… with the magnitude of the event I suffered the worst anxiety of my career. I cannot apologise enough but I want to be honest with everyone who has patiently waited to see me, I promise I will make this up to everybody I’ve let down today.
I know those who suffer from anxiety will understand and I hope those who don’t can empathise with my situation.”
I just couldn’t go through with it. Mentally, the anxiety had won. Physically, I knew I couldn’t function. I would have to pull out.
One of my team members offered to write a statement saying that I’d been taken ill, but I didn’t want to do that. I was done with putting out statements that masked what was really going on. I wanted to tell the truth. Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of; it affects millions of people every day. I know I have fans out there who have been through this kind of thing, too, and I wanted to be honest for their sake, if nothing else.
The thing is, I love performing. I love the buzz. I don’t want to do any other job. That’s why my anxiety is so upsetting and difficult to explain. It’s this thing that swells up and blocks out your rational thought processes. Even when you know you want to do something, know that it will be good for you, that you’ll enjoy it when you’re doing it, the anxiety is telling you a different story. It’s a constant battle within yourself.
On a positive note, Zayn writes about the positive impact his honest has had with fans:
I was blown away by just how many people got in contact, and how many people suffer from anxiety. It’s so common, and that’s not surprising, really. Life bombards us with pressure—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… everywhere online there are unattainable body images that make us feel inadequate; competitive messages that bring us down; there’s pressure from our parents and our peers to excel—pressure everywhere. When that pressure is magnified by living your life in the limelight, it can be pretty tough to handle: There’s a lot of negative chat and hate out there. But what I found in the wake of my cancellation at Wembley wasn’t hate but a massive amount of support from fans—people who understood, kids who were in the exact same situation as I was. Guys on Twitter were telling me how anxiety had affected their lives and saying that they were glad I had spoken up. It felt as though some good had come from the situation.
It’s so powerful to have a beloved teen idol support people who have experienced anxiety and be honest about the pressures he faces — especially when it’s something that’s so easily dismissed by people who haven’t experienced it. In the book Zayn also talks about having an eating disorder, his feelings about One Direction now, and how being in the limelight can make everything worse. Thank you Zayn!