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Fearne Cotton: 'Talking Is Vital To My Mental Health'

Being candid about her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks made Fearne Cotton realise that talking is the cure - so she launched a podcast to do just that

I love to talk. I’m a talk-o-holic. A word junkie. A confab addict. I need this transaction to feel like there is movement. I need it to propel me inwards to understand myself better. When we can’t see our own problems, mistakes or patterns of behaviour, this kind of insight is essential. I don’t talk to just vomit up words like a spewing volcano of narcissism and ego; I talk to then listen. I let the words roll out, sometimes with little inhibition, to gauge what the reaction might be. Will my best mate feel the same shame I do when I admit a certain concern? Will my old friend-turned-mentor look outraged when I admit a wrongdoing? That release is a freedom in itself, and the advice or kindness offered back is invaluable.

My desire to share the most uncomfortable things in life, and my willingness to hear others speak, has led me down some interesting roads. Writing my books Happy and Calm (with another top-secret one to follow) has proved beyond cathartic. Being honest with others and, in turn, myself has been a privilege that at first felt terrifying. Now I’m on a bit of a roll with being vulnerable in my career, as well as my life, so my podcast – Happy Place – felt like it came at the right time.

What started as a small idea has steamrollered into an exciting and freeing place for me and many others. If you have listened to the series, thank you. Your feedback has been incredible and I’m so glad these audible bites have been as joyful for you to listen to as they have been for me to write and record.

I started by interviewing my mate Zephyr about the loss of her husband and the head-on sorrow and fear of bringing up two young kids on her own. This conversation flowed beautifully, as Zephyr is a fan of a good chat too. She is painfully honest and unbelievably helpful. This led me on to reach out to other people who I knew would be up for being authentic and honest about life. Dawn French chatting about divorce and adoption (could I love her any more? No!); Stephen Fry throwing heartfelt words out like grenades of compassion; Alexandra Shulman showing how human and vulnerable you still have to be underneath a huge job such as being the editor of_Vogue_. It has been a complete privilege to sit and listen to these wise and divine humans speak their truth.

I’m happy to say I’m rocketing on through series two, and you’ll be able to hear it very soon. I promise to keep asking beautiful souls to spill the beans on what makes them tick, how they’ve found their peace and, essentially, what makes them happy.

Conversations where there is true connection can be healing for us all, whether it’s talking to your best mate about a deep-rooted worry or listening to a stranger speak about something that strikes a chord with you. We all just need to be open enough to really listen, and be up for being pushed and inspired into new spaces in life.

Talk, talk, talk. It’s relief. It’s calm. It’s happiness. Just don’t forget to listen too!

Subscribe to Happy Place wherever you get your podcasts

We need YOUR help to make it a legal requirement to have a trained mental health first aider in every workplace or college. Please sign our petition at wheresyourheadat.org and use the hashtag #WheresYourHeadAt to support the campaign