Zayn Malik’s One Direction Confessions: On Sex, Anxiety, and His Eating Disorder
The “Pillow Talk” singer, 23, revealed the battle he fought as a member of One Direction in his autobiography, Zayn, excerpted by the Sun.
“When I look back at images of myself from around November 2014, before the final tour, I can see how ill I was,” he wrote. “Something I’ve never talked about in public before, but which I have come to terms with since leaving the band, is that I was suffering from an eating disorder.”
He continued: “It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that, I’d just go for days—sometimes two or three days straight—without eating anything at all. It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognize it for what it was.”
Part of why Malik had a hard time realizing he had a problem is because he wasn’t concerned about his actual weight and didn’t think he needed to be thinner.
“I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did. I had lost so much weight I had become ill,” he wrote. “The workload and the pace of life on the road put together with the pressures and strains of everything going on within the band had badly affected my eating habits.”
Malik’s eating disorder wasn’t his only issue. The singer also suffers from crippling anxiety, which hurts his live performances, often leading him to cancel them altogether. That anxiety has exacerbated since going solo, since he doesn’t have four other singers to support him onstage. It hit him particularly hard in June 2016, when he was slated to perform at the Capital FM Summertime Ball in London and bailed at the last minute.
“On the morning of the 2016 Capital Radio Summertime Ball, an anxiety attack hit me like a f***ing freight train,” he wrote. “I felt sick. I couldn’t breathe. The idea of it totally freaked me out and I was paralyzed with anxiety. This overwhelming fear just kicked in out of nowhere, bringing with it a s***storm of self-doubt.”
Malik was so distraught he could barely even explain what was happening.
“When my management team came over to see what was wrong, I was on total psychological lockdown. I would make a move to walk out of the house, to get into a car that would then drive me to Wembley, but I could only manage a few paces before I hit an imaginary wall,” he said. “It stopped me in my tracks, and I would have to sit down again.”
To remedy his issues with anxiety and touring, he Malik intends to start small.
“The plan is to start performing smaller venues and work my way up from there,” he said. “This anxiety isn’t going to get the better of me.”