Prior to forming One Direction, Liam Payne experienced his breakout moment on The X Factor at just 14 years old. Because he was constantly in the public eye starting at such a young age, Payne was forced to privately work through mental health issues alone. Now one month sober, the singer has opened up about his experience with childhood stardom and how his One Direction years resulted in substance abuse and depression.
Payne recently sat down with Stephen Bartlett on a segment of the podcast Diary Of A CEO, where he got candid about therapy, his relationship with the media, and how being mega-famous was traumatic. “One of our old managers went to therapy from being a manager of One Direction,” he said on the podcast. “You can imagine how that feels, the rest of us definitely needed some.”
Part of what led to his substance abuse, as Payne describes, was the boyband’s lack of freedom while touring. From an outsiders perspective, it would seem that One Direction had everything they wanted: screaming fans, brand deals, loads of money. But in reality, they were so famous that they were locked alone in their hotel rooms right after leaving the stage:
“The problem we had in the band, and I don’t blame anyone for this. When we were in the band, the best way to secure us because of how big it got was just lock us in our rooms. And, of course, what’s in the room? Mini-bar. So at certain point, I thought, I’m going to have a party of one. That just seemed to carry on for many years of my life. […] As a teen, the one thing you need is freedom to make choices and freedom to do stuff. Although we could do anything we wanted, it seemed as though from the outside, we were always locked into a room at night.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Payne describes what led him to the decision to become sober. “There’s some stuff that I’ve never, never spoken about that was really, really, really severe,” he said. “It was a problem. It was only until I saw myself after that I was like, alright, I need to fix myself. […] I was worried how far my rock bottom was going to be. Where’s rock bottom for me? And you would never have seen it. I’m very good at hiding it. No one would ever have seen it.”
Watch Payne open up about his One Direction years on Diary Of A CEO above, around the 23-minute mark.