Robbie Williams has opened up about his battle with agoraphobia, revealing that the illness left him housebound for three years.
The former Take That star, who is performing at BST Hyde Park this evening (July 14), discussed the condition – which leaves sufferers with a fear of the outdoors – in a new interview with The Sun. He said the illness left him unable to “face the public.”
Suffering from the condition from 2006 until 2009, Williams said he was unable to “leave the sofa” and couldn’t take on work – including hosting American Idol – because his mind was telling him that he “shouldn’t go anywhere.”
Williams said: “My career had gone stratospheric and taken me to Mars, and I needed some time to get my equilibrium back and get myself back together.
“It was my body and mind telling me I shouldn’t go anywhere, that I couldn’t do anything. It was telling me to just wait — so I literally just sat and waited. I was agoraphobic from around 2006 to 2009. Those years were just spent wearing a cashmere kaftan, eating Kettle Chips, growing a beard and staying in.”
Speaking about the work he had to turn down because of the condition, Williams added: “I remember they offered me £15million to take over from Simon Cowell on American Idol, plus a big gig in the States, but I turned it down because I wasn’t leaving the sofa at the time. I just couldn’t.”
Williams also revealed that listing to The Killers song, ‘Human’ helped him to recover from the illness, specifically the song’s lyrics: “And sometimes I get nervous, when I see an open door.”
He explained: “I remember listening to that Killers song and something in that moment made me think, ‘I had better get my arse in gear, put an album together and tour’.”
After further therapy sessions, Williams made his comeback in 2009 and thinks that his reunion with Take That also played a part in his recovery.
“It wasn’t an easy process, it was like having a car crash and then learning how to walk again. If it wasn’t for Take That, and rejoining them, I don’t know if I’d have come back at all. Initially, I got to hide in plain sight — I could hide behind my boys. They helped an awful lot.”
“I have an album to promote” he said. “I’m gonna be all over the place to promote that. We wanted it to work desperately with The X Factor but it just wasn’t going to work. And it’s to be continued. Me and Simon [Cowell] are good friends. Our family are friends. The kids hang out all the time.
“It’s just a pause on the relationship and then it will carry on. But this year I have to go and promo our album to death.”
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day