Strictly's Susannah Constantine feared she would be diagnosed as 'manic depressive' like her late mum; The What Not to Wear fashionista has struggled to fight against her anxiety, but said she had help from a particular friend.
When Susannah Constantine quickstepped on to the Strictly stage it was the start of a new chapter in her life.
She's overcome mental battles - which saw her become a recluse - and insecurities over the way she looked.
And despite coming bottom of the leaderboard on last week's show, she insists she's having the time of her life.
"It's been tiring, exhilarating, empowering," told Susannah. "An emotional rollercoaster but fantastic."
Susannah, 56, was awarded the lowest score in Strictly history last Saturday - with Craig Revel Horwood calling her dance with partner Anton Du Beke one of the worst in the show's history.
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But she says the pressure and criticism haven't brought back the dark days she endured as she battled severe anxiety.
"The only time we are in tears is through laughter," told mum-of-three Susannah.
Feeling stronger and more confident ahead of last night's dance, the presenter says she's already noticing changes in herself thanks to Strictly.
"I feel that I am able to remember steps a little bit more this time. I am definitely getting fitter and the next day I feel strong.
"I am miles away fromDebbie McGee, she was incredible - but I am able to touch my toes now."
Although in a much happier place, Susannah reveals how she still suffers from panic attacks and anxiety - and feared she would be diagnosed as manic depressive, like her late mum.
"I still have anxiety attacks now and usually it's something you can't put your finger on and exercise does help with that enormously and quite often I wake up full of fear and I don't know why. I have had it all my life," she opened up before taking to the Strictly dancefloor.
"It comes from not knowing how my mum was going to be each day or each week. It's a coping mechanism and it's fear or flight."
Opening up about her childhood, Susannah admits she was fearful she'd be manic depressive too.
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"Mum made numerous suicide attempts and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals," told Susannah.
"It left me with a fear of abandonment and I was vulnerable to panic attacks. I always felt a responsibility to keep an eye out for her and to keep her safe.
I was terrified that I had the same gene -- my mother and I looked very alike - and that I would develop depression too. My husband Sten was very supportive and reassuring."
Fashion guru Susannah rose to fame alongside Trinny Woodhall, 54, when they presented What Not To Wear.
As her career was taking off Susannah was secretly was at one of her lowest moments.
Twelve years ago her mum died, aged 76.
Around that time Susannah turned into a recluse as she was unhappy being a size 16 and had to deal with the death of her mother.
Admitting to having a mid-life crisis, Susannah told: "I stopped caring about my appearance and my well-being - although I did really care to everyone else. I just wanted to hide myself away and living in the countryside, I was able to do this.
"Friends always said to me that the only reason I was moving to the countryside was so I didn't have to put so make-up on every day which is sort of true.
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"And I have such a full and busy life that I put myself at the bottom of the list like so many women do and for someone like me, the background I have got I had come across so many women like the one that I had become, it was ironic.
"I was at a point in my life where I needed Trinny and Susannah to sort me out."
Despite being a fashion expert, Susannah couldn't get excited about the thing that made her famous.
"I took no joy in clothes any more because every time I put something on from my old wardrobe.
"I couldn't zip up my old black dress and so all the joy in my appearance had gone and the self confidence that it gives you and being able to switch from a slob but being able to turn it on if you are going out and put something great on and feel a million dollars and I didn't have that any more."
She turned her back on showbiz - before Strictly came along.
Until then she struggled to get back on TV, thanks to her age and going it alone without Trinny.
"I find that no-one wants to employ a rather large middle aged woman.
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"It's really hard to rebrand yourself when for so long Trinny and I were so much of a unit and it was Trinny and Susannah.
"To just be Susannah takes a long time to establish and then you have got to get a network to want to take a middle aged woman and put her in something new and that just does not happen today.
"Women in their Fifties all of a sudden become invisible."
After Craig Revel Horwood awarded her a meagre 1 and told she looked like a "drunken party" on last week's show, Susannah hopes she gets more constructive feedback this weekend.
"I thought they were pretty fair but if someone is going to give a throwaway comment it would be quite nice to get some constructive advice afterwards. Otherwise it's a bit pointless really, isn't it?"
And if her Strictly journey ends tomorrow Susannah is already looking ahead to her next project.
"Writing is always what I have enjoyed the most and I am lucky that I am forging another career for myself and I am working on my second novel."
Strictly Come Dancing results show airs on Sunday at 7.15pm on BBC1.
Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine in Australia
Susannah on Strictly Come Dancing
Susannah and Anton Du Beke
The star with her female competitors on the show
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|Title Annotation:||TV,TV News|
|Publication:||Daily Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 29, 2018|
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