Michael Ball health: Star’s career at risk after he ‘couldn’t cope’ with condition

Loose Women: Michael Ball performs 'Be The One'

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First appearing in London’s West End in 1985, Michael has achieved a number of great things within his career, including number one singles and a successful radio show on BBC Radio 2. Yet, when reflecting on his career, the star always returns to one point in particular – the struggles he faced with his mental health. It was this time in his life that Michael says “made [him] a better performer and a better person.”

Speaking to The Guardian earlier this year, when theatres were allowed to reopen after the Covid pandemic, Michael recalled having a panic attack on stage.

The star had just recovered from a six week battle with glandular fever, but on returning to work still felt exhausted.

A panic attack is a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. These episodes come on extremely quickly and for no apparent reason, making it a very frightening and distressing experience for individuals.

The NHS list the various symptoms that individuals may feel when having a panic attack. Some of these include:

  • A racing heartbeat
  • Feeling faint
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes
  • Chills.

Some more unusual symptoms include a choking sensation, dizziness and a tingling sensation in your fingers. These symptoms can last anywhere between five and 20 minutes, but some have been reported to last for up to an hour according to the NHS.

After suffering one on stage, Michael said that he started to experience panic attacks “randomly” anywhere he went. “On the way to work, randomly, anywhere,” the star said.

Due to this Michael said that he “just withdrew,” leaving the show he was currently in and spending nine months “virtually housebound,” doubtful that he would even work professionally again.

In an interview with the Daily Mail last year, Michael said: “I’d never had a nerve in my body, then this happened. All you have to offer as a performer is yourself.

“Our job is to make people feel comfortable and if you’re not, you can’t hide it, everything’s out of kilter. You suddenly think, ‘Why I am here?’

“It’s too much responsibility, which you can’t cope with. These thoughts whizz through your head as you’re on stage.

“It’s totally debilitating, creates the panic attack that mean you can’t do what it is, above all, that you want to do.”

Looking back on this time in his career, Michael has mixed feelings. He continued to say: “I wish it hadn’t happened, but I’m quite glad it did in a way.

“You get to the other side, and you learn of the vulnerability of all of us. I think that’s been very useful over this last year. It’s recognising that you’re on a spiral down, and how to stop that.”

Remarkably Michael never sought professional medical help for his anxiety and panic attacks. Instead he said he felt unable to do so, muddling through this tough time by himself.

But to this day Michael realises that the potential of another panic attack is never far away. “If I get really tired, stressed, run down, I can feel that thing happening.,” he explained.

Overall, the experience has made Michael realise that you never know what is going on behind closed doors for individuals, even though they might act as though they are completely fine.

He knows people might have thought about him: “‘Oh, he just breezes along, it’s all absolutely marvellous.’ No, that’s my act, that’s what I do to survive. No one wants to hear me being miserable, so that’s not what I do. We’re all, to a greater or lesser extent, plagued by the same things.”

Unlike Michael, the NHS recommends that if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack then you should seek help from your GP. If not, you might create what is known as a cycle of living in fear. This sense of fear can majorly interrupt your daily life and cause you to have more attacks as a result.

Treatments for panic disorders aim to reduce the number of attacks you have had, as well as ease your symptoms. The main treatments used include talking therapies and medicine.

For a free listening service that offers confidential support from trained volunteers, individuals can contact Samaritans on 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively, individuals can text SHOUT on 85258.

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