‘I have dark moments’: Shirley Ballas reveals her vivacious TV persona is a ‘mask’ that hides her anxiety and she doesn’t think it will ever leave her
The former professional dancer, 62, said she has hidden insecurities and doesn’t see any ‘beauty’ in herself.
Speaking to Top Santé magazine, she said: ‘I have dark moments. If someone asks, ‘What’s happy?’ It’s like, ‘I have no idea. You tell me’. I feel like I’m wearing a mask.
Candid: Shirley Ballas has revealed her vivacious television persona on Strictly Come Dancing is a ‘mask’ that hides ‘dark moments’ and her struggle with anxiety
‘When I go to do Strictly, people expect me to be ‘on’ but behind closed doors I’m tussling with myself, asking myself, “Why do I feel like this? Why am I emotional? Why do I look at myself and not see beauty?”
Shirley said she has struggled with anxiety for many years and doesn’t think it will ever leave her.
She added: ‘I think I’m always going to be like that. It’s been engrained from being a small child.
‘I know I’m anxious when I feel my heart palpitating – I can’t sleep, I worry about everything.’
Interview: The former professional dancer, 62, said she has hidden insecurities and doesn’t see any ‘beauty’ in herself
The TV star said she is also concerned about the health of her elderly mother, Audrey Rich, 85, and is constantly worrying about the future.
She said: ‘Lately, if I hear music that my mother likes, I think about the fact she’s getting older and I envisage things that haven’t happened yet, rather than staying present in the now.
‘In that way, my anxiety is self-inflicted. Breathing and talking positively to myself helps it subside.’
Shirley said she is concerned for young peoples’ mental health as social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram don’t do enough to curb online bullying.
She lost her brother, David, to suicide in 2003 when he was 44 following a battle with depression.
‘Dark moments’: Speaking to Top Santé magazine, she said: ‘I have dark moments. If someone asks, ‘What’s happy?’ It’s like, ‘I have no idea. You tell me’. I feel like I’m wearing a mask’
The star said that mental health is ‘more of a conversation now’ but she still thinks more needs to be done.
Mentioning her brother’s passing, Shirley added that she recently read a storuy about a teenage girl who took her life after being targeted on social media.
The star said she doesn’t think social media platforms are doing enough to help protect young people’s mental health.
It comes after Shirley got tearful as she slammed the recent online backlash against her during a TV interview on Loose Women last month.
Her say: It comes after Shirley got tearful as she slammed the recent online backlash against her during a TV interview on Loose Women last month
Shirley, who landed the head judge role in 2017, is at the centre of a new fix row as some Twitter trolls demand she is sacked over her critique of this series’ celebrity contestants.
Shirley insisted: ‘I don’t have a mean bone in my body’ as she called out the ‘hurtful’ and ‘explicit’ comments online.
‘The backlash and trolling has been a lot,’ Shirley told the Loose Women panel.
‘I appreciate the audience has been there for 20 years,’ she continued, ‘but when you watch a screen you can only see half of what I see, the feet and everything.
‘I love that they have an opinion but then it goes overboard and its not nice.
Saved: Shirley was at the centre of a fix row as trolls demanded she be sacked over her critique of contestants, including her comment that Fleur East should have been sent home
Out: Earlier this series, the public vote Fleur into the the dance off alongside Richie Anderson. While Shirley’s three co-judges voted to save Fleur, Shirley said she would have saved Richie
‘It’s a tough industry and has been a tough industry all my life,’ she said before her voice cracked and she admitted ‘I’m getting emotional already.’
‘Saturdays are the ultimate job. I do read everything. I know people say not to but I think it’s quite important. I like to think I’ve helped so many people over the years, people with mental health issues.’
‘But it is really hurtful, some of the language is so explicit I couldn’t even retweet it, its unfathomable.’
Shirley was asked about the then latest episode of Strictly, which saw the public vote singer Fleur East into the the dance off alongside Radio 2 star Richie Anderson.
While Shirley’s three co-judges Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel-Horwood and Anton Du Beke voted to save Fleur, sending Richie home, Shirley admitted she would have saved Richie.
Alongside claims she favours male contestants on the show, Shirley has been accused of having ‘favourites whether they have ability or not’, with many arguing that Fleur had been the superior dancer to Richie.
Emotional: Speaking on Loose Women, Shirley insisted ‘I don’t have a mean bone in my body’ as she called out the ‘hurtful’ comments online’
Explaining her decision, Shirley pointed out it was the public vote that sent Fleur into the dance off.
‘Why were they in the bottom two if they’re your favourite?’ she said. ‘I have to choose what I like, I judge from the top to the bottom.’
‘I chose Richie to save as the Samba is hard to dance and I look at the footwork and I loved Fleur too!’
Shirley also explained how she has experienced bullying since she first began her career, admitting ‘it escalated so it makes you resilient.’
‘When you read it the wall goes up. I don’t have a mean bone in my body. You don’t have to agree with me but we can still talk to each other like human beings.’
Meanwhile her fellow judge Anton Du Beke defended the judging process on Strictly during a conversation with Kaye Adams, who was voted off the show in its first week.
Trolls: ‘The backlash and trolling has been a lot,’ Shirley told the Loose Women panel. ‘I read everything and it is so hurtful’
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Kaye was keen to know why Shirley has history in voting to save a difference pair to her fellow judges after the dance off, asking Anton about her decision to save Richie over Fleur:
‘Shirley and the other three judges seemed to go in different directions – is that all pantomime?’
‘No, no, because we can’t confer!’ Anton replied. ‘The judging part of it is a really important part of the show and we don’t confer.’
‘We do what we do individually and then, after the show’s finished, then we can chat and go, “Oh, why did you go for that?” he explained.
‘But during the process, we can’t even look at each other. It’s really important that we don’t make any sort of contact together because then it could be seen as deciding the results amongst ourselves.’
Backlash: ‘It’s a tough industry and has been a tough industry all my life,’ she said before her voice cracked and she admitted ‘I’m getting emotional already’
He continued: ‘I’m very aware that I can’t glance towards Shirley and raise my eyebrows. I look straight forward and I make my decision and we all do the same thing. There’s no conferring at all and it’s really important.
Anton then went on to refer to Kaye’s own elimination, where he and the other judges did not agree with Shirley that she should be saved and she was ultimately sent home over Bros star Matt Goss.
‘Shirley decided what she decided. You know, you have your own basic principles about what you judge on and you make your decision based on those, really, and so she’d obviously seen something in you that…
‘That you didn’t?’ Kaye interrupted. ‘That the other three judges absolutely did not,’ Anton stated. ‘But it was so close.’
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Criticism: Fans have rushed to defend Shirley after the show’s head judge was accused of sexism in a furious social media pile on (pictured on this weekend’s show)