Jesy Nelson has given her first interview since her Little Mix exit, and said she "didn't know she could feel this happy" after leaving the band.
The pop star, 29, announced she was quitting the Brit Award-winning girlband late last year due to mental health reasons, after almost a decade in the group.
The singer had taken to Instagram to share the news to her adoring fans after taking an extended time off from band duties the month before.
In a statement to her 7.3million followers, she declared she was leaving the band with a "heavy heart" after reflecting on the success the mega-group have enjoyed since winning The X Factor in 2011.
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Now, the singer has broken her silence in her first interview since departing from the band, and is set to star on the cover of the June issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which is on sale Thursday (6 May).
Asked about how she feels since leaving the band, she told Cosmo: “I didn’t know that I could be this happy. I thought when I was in the group that it was just normal to feel that way. And because I’d felt like that for 10 years I just thought, ‘this is life.’ Since I’ve left, I feel free."
Jesy followed up by stating that she is "honest, content and free" now she is out of the band compared to being "honest, hardworking" and "sad" in Little Mix.
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On why she had to leave the band, she says: “The last music video we did [Sweet Melody] was the breaking point. We’d been in lockdown, and it was the first time I could have a break and be at home around people that I love. It was the happiest I’d ever felt and I didn’t realise that until I went back to work. I immediately became a different person.
“I had anxiety. Whenever we have a music video I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight. I have a fear of looking back on the camera. If I don’t like what I see, I find it so hard to be in front of the camera and feel amazing and perform.
"On the day of the Sweet Melody video I had a panic attack on set because I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself.
“There’s a scene in Sweet Melody I’m not in because that’s when I had a panic attack and broke down. I was like, ‘I just want to go home.’
“I was sobbing in the dressing room. Someone really close to me said, ‘This has got to stop. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You’re going to end up where you were before.’"
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Daily Star recently revealed how Jesy is recording her debut solo album in London, in Sam Smith's old studio.
On recording new music, an excited Jesy added: "For people to think that I would just stop working completely is crazy because me working on my mental health is going to the studio, and creating music that I love. That’s what clears my head and makes me happy. It's good for my mental health."
The June issue of Cosmopolitan is on sale from May 6.
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