We catch up with the ever funny and frank Gemma Collins at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to find out more about her new-found passion for gardening.
She tells us the hobby has helped her after a "sticky period" battling depression, and says, "I was a manic person and yes, I was crazy, yes, I wanted to get to the top of my career. No MOFO was going to stop me and I was so ‘on it’, but now I’m just like, ‘Breathe… what’s going to be will be.’"
Looking serene in green as she strolls through the show-stopping floral displays, the newly Zen TOWIE star, 42, also opens up about her chilled country life with fiancé Rami Hawash, 48, a new treatment for mental health issues, her take on motherhood and why she’s expecting the patter of tiny (chicken’s) feet in the near future…
How are you feeling these days, Gemma?
I’ve suffered from depression at various times in my life but I’m off all medication now. I felt like my judgment was really clouded when I was taking it and I couldn’t feel anything. I’m very big on spirituality and following my own intuition and I felt that when I was on the tablets, it just numbed it. I was too manic before and that’s why I had to go on the tablets – because you can’t cope with the level of pressure – but now I’m off my tablets. I’m so calm.
Have you tried any other treatments?
First I was on [antidepressant] Citalopram and then I went onto Sertraline and it got me through a sticky period, and then literally, I was just like, “I can’t feel anything any more” so I came off of it. I was told about the Flow Neuroscience Headset and it’s incredible – the NHS is really keen to have it. I do it in the morning when I’m making a cup of tea. It’s a head device programmed to an app on your phone and it stimulates the frontal area of the brain linked to depression.
And it’s making a difference?
I’ve got all my feelings again and I felt that my judgement was quite clouded. I didn’t feel like I could see dodgy people around me. People were taking me for granted but my brain is so sharp now and I’ve got no side effects. I was desperate to get off medication – but everyone is different and they need to consult their GP. But I was like, “I don’t want them [antidepressants] in my life.” That’s it.
It can’t be easy being famous when you feel “off”…
Even coming to Chelsea today, people come up to me and I’m like, “Oh my God, I just got here and I need a drink.” I’m not moaning about that but it’s a shock. I’ve become really well-known now and although I can deal with it, I am human. If people get in my personal space then it gets too much.
You’re doing a lot of work in the garden back home in Essex – does that help?
My happiness now is my garden. At the end of the day, it’s so good for your mental health. I’ve been growing my fruit and veg and it makes me a lot more grounded as a person. I’ve got blueberries, raspberries… but I’ve got to say that even coming here today, there’s a lot of snobbery around gardening and it’s got to change. Any person can do a garden on a big or small scale. I’ve got to be honest with you, my garden is a lot better than what you see here at Chelsea!
We hear you fancy moving to ultra-posh Knightsbridge, though?
I want to move – that’s the plan now. I love it up there. That’s where I have my sights set, because I’ve got a country pad anyway. I’m loving country life in the summer. Listen, there will always be a bit of Knightsbridge fever in me. I just love being in London. I wouldn’t mind a pied-à-terre – Cadogan Gardens here I come! My favourite candle shop Diptyque is there so I could go every day.
Has Rami calmed you down?
Rami is a lovely guy. He runs his own business, do you know what I mean? Yeah, I’m in like a “Zen zone”. I know who I am as a woman now, I don’t take s**t. Once you’re in your forties you don’t give a f**k. Do you know what, I’ve got nothing to prove, I’ve always had good-looking men.
We love your positive attitude!
Yeah, I’m not a supermodel – I’m successful and living proof that you don’t have to conform to society. I am as I am. I get so bored of people saying to me, “Are you going to have a gastric band?” No I’m not, darling. I’ve got to be honest, a lot of people on gastric bands look terrible – their hair falls out, they look aged in the face. I am very beautiful as I am. You have to be in love with yourself whatever shape or size you are and why should I conform to what society thinks is beautiful? At the end of the day, I don’t give a f**k.
What’s next in the GC diary – do you fancy Strictly?
Do you know what, I would love to do it. They had a plus-size girl [comedian Jayde Adams] on there last year. I would do Strictly, so we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, I’ve got chickens coming this week! I haven’t got names for them yet and it’s all getting fox-proofed. I haven’t even thought. It’s quite a big thing to get the chickens.
Do you see yourself having children in the future?
I don’t know. I honestly can’t tell you. Obviously, I’ve got PCOS and all of that. I could have a child at 50. If I’d had kids sooner, I would probably have been crazy, whereas now, I’m Miss Organic, I can just be at Zen with the child. Going to the mother and toddler groups never interested me, unless it’s Knightsbridge, darling. And I’m happy to host my own one indoors or around the vegetable patch. A bit of organic pressed champagne! It’s a lot having a kid. It’s a big commitment but it’s also very rewarding. But my life will take me where it’s going to take me. It’s taken me this far and as sure as hell it’s not over yet.
Would you ever use a surrogate?
I don’t think I’ll need to. I’m The GC, honey. I can have the best doctors going. I’ll just ring one up and say, “Right, come on, get me pregnant!”
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