Gemma Collins Has Revealed That Her History Of Self Harm Made Her Put Off Having Children

The TOWIE star admitted she was put off starting a family over fears that her mental health struggles would return.

Gemma Collins

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

It’s no secret that Gemma Collins would love to have children. And the TOWIE star has faced numerous traumatic hurdles on her route to motherhood including polycystic ovary syndrome and three heart-breaking miscarriages. ‘I don’t want motherhood robbed from me,’ Gemma tearily said on Loose Women last year when she spoke of the ordeal.

And now Gemma has admitted that there was another fear making her hesitant to have children, too. ‘I was always putting off having children because I was scared I’d start self-harming again and wouldn’t be a fit mother,’ she told New Magazine. ‘Yes, I can provide financial stability and a lot of love, but what if it came back?’ she asked.

According to the NHS, the most common causes for self-harming are expressing or coping with emotional distress, trying to feel in control, a way of pushing yourself, relieving unbearable tension, a cry for help, or a response to intrusive thoughts.

Gemma has suffered with self-harm since her twenties and has now made the brave decision to discuss her experience of cutting herself in an upcoming Channel 4 documentary Self Harm And Me. Reception to the trailer has been negative and accusatory. ‘Omg! Anything to stay relevant,’ read one comment. ‘Such an annoying person,’ added another cruelly.

Because Gemma has a confident and loud personality, there’s a tendency to disbelieve that she could have mental health struggles that make her physically and emotionally vulnerable. When this stigma still exists, it’s no wonder that the reality star still feels a degree of shame around self-harm.

‘It’s something that I’ve buried for 20 years,’ Gemma admits in the trailer. ‘I was getting overwhelming emotion and I couldn’t cope with it…I never told anyone because it was shameful, I was scared,’ she continues. ‘I wish I was brave enough to ask for the help, I could have saved myself a lot of pain.’

Gemma has been open about her desire to start a family with her fiancé Rami Hawash. During a conversation about his reaction to her self-harm in the documentary trailer, he says: ‘I was shocked, you know, you’ve done something to yourself—why did you do it?’

Despite Gemma’s fears that she may be an unfit parent, experts disagree: 'Those with mental health struggles such as self-harming can be amazing parents,' trauma-based psychotherapist Cristalle Hayes told Grazia. 'They will have a deep understanding of human emotional struggles such as anxiety and sadness,' she explained.

'Parents can then pass that on to their children in the way of empathy,' Hayes continued. 'For example, rather than see that their toddler is having a tantrum or being naughty, they can appreciate that their child is overwhelmed by emotions in the same way that mummy or daddy gets overwhelmed with emotions. They can help teach their child to self soothe, regulate their emotions and normalise what is going on for them. Having this level of empathy can make you an excellent parent because children need that empathy.'

'Ultimately, showing your emotions or vulnerability to your children doesn’t make you a bad parent at all,' Hayes affirmed. 'Mental health difficulties show you are human, and it can be an opportunity to talk to your children about emotions. Having thoughts of being a lousy parent can be a sign of depression and anxiety, and this negative self-talk and shaming of the self are more likely to lead to destructive coping mechanisms such as self-harming. Be gentle and be kind to yourself. You can still parent very well even when you are struggling.'

Thankfully, having sought medical advice from experts, Gemma has been reassured that she shouldn’t be concerned about her history of self-harm when starting a family: ‘It’s like the full green light,’ the reality star said.

For support on dealing with self-harm see or call Mind's confidential Infoline on 0300 123 3393.

READ MORE: 'Why I Posted My Self-Harm Pictures On Instagram'

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