Article Nov 01, 2016

You are no longer passing

Zayn Malik overwhelmed by anxiety struggle support

Pop star Zayn Malik was "blown away" by the support he received after going public with his severe anxiety issues.

The former One Direction boyband member opened up about his emotional struggle in a lengthy statement issued in June (16), after pulling out of his first solo U.K. gig at the last minute. The performance had been due to take place at the Capital FM Summertime Ball festival in London.

In his new memoir, simply titled Zayn, the singer insists he couldn't hide his condition from fans any longer, and wanted to come clean so they could understand his pain.

"I just couldn't go through with it," he writes. "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," he continues. "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.

"When I was in One Direction, my anxiety issues were huge but, within the safety net of the band, they were at least manageable. As a solo performer, I felt much more exposed, and the psychological stress of performing had just gotten to be too much for me to handle - at that moment, at least. Rather than hiding away, sugar-coating it, I knew I had to put it all out there."

Zayn's statement was met with some backlash from critics, and he admits he found it incredibly "frustrating" when they questioned the seriousness of his condition.

The 23-year-old is still learning to deal with the negativity in the entertainment industry, because there is nothing he'd love more than to perform for his fans.

"The thing is, I love performing," he explains. "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."

Despite facing some criticism, Zayn reveals he found comfort in the overwhelming support he received from his loyal fans, who flooded his social media pages with messages of encouragement and stories of their own struggles - and that made his pain worth it.

He adds, "After I put out that statement 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... 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."

Zayn's memoir hits retailers on Tuesday (01Nov16).