Olly Alexander explains how growing up in a ‘straight world’ challenged his mental health
Years & Years singer Olly Alexander has opened up about getting mental health treatment – and how being in denial about his sexuality impacted him.
The 25-year-old singer, who is openly gay, revealed last month he suffers from anxiety and depression.
In an YouTube interview with Owen Jones, the singer – who has had a string of hits with his band Years & Years – spoke about his experiences.
He said of coming to terms with his sexuality: “I was about 14 when I really fell in love with my best friend, and was obsessed with him. He was straight. I feel that’s a really classic story for gay men!
“Up until I was 17 I wanted to be straight – I kept thinking ‘I’m straight, I’m straight, I’m straight, maybe I’m bisexual’… please let me not be gay! I’ve got enough to deal with!’.”
As a teenager, the actor and singer was the victim of bullying – and aged 19 sought out counselling for his anxiety.
He said: “I think [sexuality and mental health] are connected. Growing up in a straight world is difficult.
“Once you admit to yourself and the world that you’re gay, there’s an expectation that you put on yourself: you’re fine now, you’ve gone through the whole thing of being gay, and now you have to prove to yourself that you can live a happy life and be happy.
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“That’s something I have struggled with – of course I’m still going to get depressed and have anxiety, but you tell yourself: you’ve struggled enough, you shouldn’t have those feelings!”
Of the stigma around mental health, he explained: “If you’re invited to a party, and you say ‘I’m sick, I can’t go’ – that’s totally accepted.
“But if you say ‘I’m having a depressive episode, I’ve got to stay in bed’ – that feels much harder to say!”
“The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime.
“It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”
He added: “It’s part of who I am now – in a positive way. I look at it in a positive way.”