SHE went from wild Geordie Shore party girl to national sweetheart overnight after winning I’m A Celebrity in 2015.
But Vicky Pattison says that while all her dreams were coming true on the surface, she had never felt more alone.
The 33-year-old is now opening up on how her sudden rise to TV stardom left her feeling completely isolated and unable to trust those around her.
She is speaking out to highlight how loneliness can affect anyone as she backs The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign.
As one in five people fear they won’t see anyone over Christmas, we are shining a light on those feeling isolated and encouraging volunteers to reach out if they can.
Because, as Vicky admits, the guilt she felt about feeling this way stopped her from reaching out and sharing her fears.
‘I felt so completely terrified and overwhelmed by the world‘
The TV star won millions of fans during her stint in the jungle, as she showed viewers a completely new side of her personality in contrast to her rowdy days on Geordie Shore.
Her success also immediately opened up a wealth of new career opportunities for her.
From the start of 2016, Vicky was a regular on daily talk show Loose Women, enjoyed a stint on This Morning and eventually hosted I’m A Celebrity’s spin-off show.
But as the offers continued to flood in, she only felt more and more isolated.
The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign
THIS Christmas we are teaming up with the Together Campaign, a coalition of community groups and organisations, and Royal Voluntary Service to combat loneliness.
And we want to recruit an army of volunteers to support those feeling cut off, anxious and isolated, this Christmas.
Could YOU reach out to someone who might be struggling and alone?
It might be someone you know in your own life or community who needs support.
Or we can connect you with someone in need through the NHS Volunteer responder programme run by the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the GoodSAM app.
Could you give up half an hour to make a call and chat with someone feeling isolated? Or could you volunteer to deliver essential shopping or festive treats?
Go to nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/christmastogether to sign up as a volunteer.
You will then receive an email taking you through the sign up process and be asked to download the responder app which will match you to those in need in your area.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a job straight away, because jobs are matched according to the need local to you. Being ready to help is what really matters.
“Loneliness can strike at the weirdest of times,” she says.
“The year after I won the jungle I was working so much and felt so completely terrified and overwhelmed by the world I was living in.
“It was a big change to the life I had before, even though I was already in the industry this was a big step up and I just wasn’t prepared for it.”
‘I didn’t know who to trust’
While Vicky shared happy, glam snaps on social media in the following months, they hid how she really felt.
Her newfound level of fame thrust her into the spotlight but also created feelings of distrust.
She began shutting people out over fears they were only growing close to her for the “wrong reasons”.
“I felt super lost. I didn’t know who to trust because I didn’t know who wanted me for the right or the wrong reasons. I became really lonely,” she says.
“It was horrible because it should have been the nicest year of my life – and it might have looked that way on the outside – but deep down I was super lonely and really scared,” she says.
‘Reaching out makes you brave, not weak’
Looking back, Vicky says her biggest failing was not being brave enough to admit she felt alone.
She adds: “Loneliness doesn’t discriminate, just like heartbreak or loss. It can affect anybody.”
Looking back, she wishes she could tell her younger-self to ask for help.
“I felt so guilty that I felt lonely,” she says. “I thought ‘are you crazy you’ve got what you always wanted, just grow up.’
“I was so angry at myself so I refused to talk about it.
“I would tell myself now that it’s OK to feel lonely and stop being so hard on myself. Reaching out makes you brave, not weak.”
After finally finding the courage to open up to her friends and family about her feelings, Vicky is now well-known for posting honest photos and statements on social media, encouraging her followers to embrace who they are.
In 2017, she tweeted: “Tonight I’m feeling lonely – hate watching the jungle on my own – that’s why I tweet so much… So being able to FaceTime my wonderful sister and her little boo made me feel so much better!!”
The post received huge amounts of praise from fans, as they shared tips for how they deal with loneliness.
‘You might be feeling lonely but you are not alone’
Vicky has now scaled down her social circle to those she trusts the most – including her boyfriend Ercan Ramadan, 36 – and is urging everyone to “extend a little kindness and compassion” this Christmas.
Vicky adds: “I was often in a room full of people surrounded by crowds at massive industry events and I felt so lonely.
“Now my life is a lot smaller, I only have a few significant people in my life. You don’t need a lot of people, you just need the right ones.
“There are so many of us who refuse to accept we need someone else. We don’t want to admit we’re lonely, but we all want to be loved and no one wants to be on their own all the time.
“Christmas is a hard time to be alone. We need to be reaching out and checking in on people more than ever.
“You might be feeling lonely but you are not alone and I can guarantee there will be people feeling the same as you.
“So be brave and reach out to someone. If you take that leap of faith then you might find yourself with a new friend and you might be not so lonely together.”