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Honest interview Mary Byrne reveals she spiraled into depression and turned to drink after losing work due to lockdown

"This time I didn't even want to kill myself. I just hated myself for what I was doing to myself."

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Mary Byrne started drinking heavily when lockdown hit

Mary Byrne started drinking heavily when lockdown hit

Mary Byrne started drinking heavily when lockdown hit

FORMER X Factor star Mary Byrne reveals that she's now picking up the pieces of her life after suffering a meltdown since the start of the year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In an exclusive, brutally frank interview, Mary (61) tells the Sunday World that she fell into a black hole when she lost her income, her savings and her self-esteem after all her shows were cancelled indefinitely.

With no work, the entertainer, who suffers from mental health issues, said she started drinking excessively on top of her medication, with devastating results.

"It was absolutely terrible," Mary says, recalling the nightmare she experienced. "The last time I had it, it was a blackness where I just wanted to go down to the canal and throw myself in.

"This time I didn't even want to kill myself. I just hated myself for what I was doing to myself. I knew I was doing it and I couldn't stop it. I like my drink, but I wouldn't be an alcoholic. I just know I can't drink the way I used to be able to drink because of the depression.

"And, of course, I forgot all about that. So every time I went to the supermarket I'd buy a bottle of wine and at night I'd think, 'ah sure I'll only have one glass of that.' But I'd end up finishing the bottle.

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Mary Byrne with Nicole Scherzinger

Mary Byrne with Nicole Scherzinger

Mary Byrne with Nicole Scherzinger

"When you're drinking and you're on medication it affects it, and it makes you paranoid, it makes you feel low. Suddenly I was drinking nearly every day. I was having a glass of wine here, a glass of wine there and I didn't even feel it going down. I didn't feel myself going down until I hit rock bottom.

"And when I hit rock bottom paranoia set in, total self-hatred. I loathed myself so badly. I can't even describe the feeling that was inside me. I just felt so alone. I knew I wasn't, but I couldn't stop the demons inside telling me 'you are, you are, you are.'

"And that's what it was like. Every morning I'd wake up and think, 'you're not worthy. You are just a f**kin' asshole, look at the state of ya, putting back on weight after doing this, doing that…'

"I can't express it the way I want to express it, but the physical, mental pain wouldn't have been half as bad as the emotional pain that was inside."

Before the pandemic, Mary had been taking care of her health, had lost weight and was keeping reasonably fit. "This year I gained two stone by just purely not caring," she says.

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Mary Byrne at the Sunday World Country Music Awards in 2017

Mary Byrne at the Sunday World Country Music Awards in 2017

Mary Byrne at the Sunday World Country Music Awards in 2017

"Performing on stage is the place that I feel more like me than anywhere else. It's the place where I can be my alter ego - the one that has courage and the one that has confidence.

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"It's the same when I'm on the Elaine TV show [on Virgin Media TV]. I sit there and I'm full of confidence. I'm talking and I'm being my alter ego because the 'other one' is not too good at stuff…the real me."

Then Mary corrects herself saying: "But she is, though. This is the gas thing, I'm the same person. I try to tell myself that now when I wake up every morning. I tell myself, 'you're worth more than what you think you are'.

"And I have to tell myself that every day. I fight with myself every single morning. I just get up and potter around the house telling myself that I am worthy of everything and that what I do is good and I'm a good person."

I remind her that she a good person with an exceptional talent. "Oh… the demon on one side tells me I'm not, and the person on the other side keeps telling me I am, so there's a battle constantly going on," Mary responds.

Mary, who was working on a Tesco checkout in Dublin's Ballyfermot before gaining fame on The X Factor in 2010, said that she has always struggled with her self-confidence and self-worth.

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X Factor star Mary Byrne at her workplace in Tesco, Ballyfermot, in 2010

X Factor star Mary Byrne at her workplace in Tesco, Ballyfermot, in 2010

X Factor star Mary Byrne at her workplace in Tesco, Ballyfermot, in 2010

"Everything was great while The X Factor was going on and for a couple of years after it my confidence got better," she says. "But the disease took over again and started knocking my confidence, and then lockdown happened."

However, six weeks ago Mary decided to try to regain control over her life by cutting out the booze and concentrate on her achievements.

She says: "This is how I got through the last six weeks: I took out all the little memorabilia I've collected. I looked at the photographs of me shaking hands with the Queen of England, performing at Aviva Stadium with Neil Diamond and on a cruise with Cliff Richard, meeting Kenny Rogers and starring as Teen Angel in Grease the Musical, singing in Wembley and publishing a best-selling autobiography.

" I've done so much since going into the business late at the age of 50. I remind myself that I have so much going for me, and I have so much more in me.

"So I looked at myself one morning and I said 'You're going to have to stop this, get a grip.' You are not this person You know you suffer with depression and you know you let things get so out of hand.

"Now I'm in a much better place than I ever was. I'm stronger than I was six weeks ago. But I'm still on the cusp of it. I'm still fighting with myself. I'm still trying to get my life together and still trying to get back to where I was."

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