Liam Payne Talks Battling Depression During One Direction Fame

By David Konow 11/28/17

“I shouldn’t have been able to do as many shows as we did, if I’m brutally honest about it."

Liam Payne

Former One Direction singer Liam Payne has opened up about suffering from depression, and struggling to keep his mental health together at the height of the group's fame.

The global boy band sensation One Direction first came to the public consciousness when they became a group on The X Factor (UK) in 2010. A year later, they had a number one song in the UK with "What Makes You Beautiful," and their debut album, Up All Night, hit number one in the U.S. in 2012.

But even though the group had massive success, and the adoration of millions of screaming fans, Liam Payne was having a hard time getting a grip on his mental health.

Payne even told The Sun that he should have stayed home from the road to get himself together. “I shouldn’t have been able to do as many shows as we did, if I’m brutally honest about it. Going out and putting that happy smile on my face and singing the songs, honestly, sometimes it was like putting on one of those costumes, going out there and, underneath the costume, people don’t really see what’s going on.”

In 2015, a show in Belfast had to be canceled because Liam fell “ill”—he had just broken up with his girlfriend and “wasn’t in a good place...  Unfortunately I was going through a rough time and I let it get to me a little bit too much. The more we did, I just don’t think we stopped and celebrated enough how great things were and I think that’s what got on top of us in the end.”

In 2015, Payne would also confess to Attitude Magazine that he had “a pretty bad drinking stage... You’re away from home and that can get hard. I feel good to be out of that zone and more concentrated. There were just a few times that I went over the limit with things and then I had to pull it back.”

Payne wasn’t the only member of One Direction who struggled with his mental health. Last year, Zayn Malik revealed in his memoir that he had an eating disorder and battled anxiety, sometimes going for several days without eating. At one point, he even had to cancel a concert because of “extreme anxiety.”

Malik told Time, “It’s this thing that swells up and blocks out your rational thought processes... It’s a constant battle within yourself.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.