I laugh at my darkest demons on TikTok – opening up on suicide attempts & alcoholism makes me feel less alone

FROM alcohol addiction to self-harm and depression, there's little Janet Devlin is afraid to share about her mental health battles on TikTok.

The former X Factor star, 25, has become a mental health advocate and inspiration for many on the video sharing site with her no-holds-barred recordings.

And now the singer, who appeared on the 2011 series of Simon Cowell's talent show, has revealed to Sun Online how being able to laugh in the face of her demons has helped her feel "less alone" following years of hell.

Janet has previously revealed she was self-harming by the age of 12, before battling an eating disorder at the age of 15. She went on to struggle with alcohol addiction and even attempted suicide after hitting rock bottom in more recent years.

She now says it was ultimately finding a way to laugh about her darkest moments that helped her get sober.

In amongst some stunning musical performances on TikTok, Janet regularly surprises her fans with clips of her joking about everything from the troubles of dating as an alcoholic, to spending the morning crying in the shower.

Here she reveals how this controversial humour has been her saviour…

'It's deep-rooted… I punched myself in the stomach when I was 4'

Janet became a firm favourite for many X Factor viewers when she appeared as a shy young singer on stage in 2011, singing a haunting rendition of Your Song.

But while she went from strength to strength on the show, and continued right through to the live shows, she was battling ongoing mental health issues behind closed doors.

The singer has previously praised the show for offering her support throughout, but says her issues were "seriously deep-rooted" at that point.

“I didn’t realise that people didn’t wake up and think about killing themselves," she says, while admitting she'd had suicidal thoughts from her early teens.

Janet has said she'd find herself thinking about what she'd include in a suicide letter at random points of the day, with no obvious explanation.

“As I was doing my make-up, I’d be thinking about it," she adds.

“It wasn’t until someone made me question my own inner thoughts when I realised.

“I wrote about in my book about a story when I was four years old and I physically punched myself in the stomach a few times and cursed myself and hated myself. I’ve not been my best friend for a long time."

'I almost died so many times'

Janet previously struggled with self-harming and an eating disorder, all before the age of 15.

She then battled alcohol addiction around a year after X Factor – to the point she'd wake up with a "bottle of gin under her pillow". This, in turn, led to her attempting to take her own life several times.

“In my earlier days, I’d say my drinking was triggered by loneliness," she says. "I was spending so much time on my own, I couldn’t leave my flat because it was only a year after X Factor.

“We were in a wee bubble before. Stepping outside of that bubble, and not having a security team around you… you don’t believe it until you’ve had your own mob session in the middle of an M&S or something.

“At the time I lived on my own in a city where I knew nobody. I couldn’t leave. When it came to a Friday night and I’d done my week of studio work or whatever, you’re damn right I was going to buy a few bottles of wine.

You’re not alone – where to get help

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk, 0800 917 7650.
  • Beat, www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/, 0808 801 0677.


"But obviously when you’re an alcoholic that doesn’t stay that way. It got progressively worse…"

'I don't know if I'd have been able to get sober without laughing about it'

At first, Janet struggled under the weight of her addiction, and didn't know how to deal with it.

However, she says attending an AA meeting and seeing members laughing about their demons was a breakthrough for her.

“When I first went into AA, I heard a group of successful, empowered, beautiful women joking about what I was going through and the pain I was living in," she recalls.

I could never joke to my friends and family, because I was very much ruining their lives.

"I was like, ‘I want that, I want to be able to joke about it’.

“Up until that point you’d taken everything so seriously. There’s this big demon on your back and the amount of times you’re obviously close to death, it’s awfully scary.

“I could never joke to my friends and family, because I was very much ruining their lives.

“But realising in that space that it was welcomed to joke about it, oh my God, the weight off my shoulders… if it wasn’t for being able to laugh about it, I don’t know if I’d have been able to get sober.

"The freedom to just laugh in the face of your demons, it takes their power away, in my opinion."

Janet is however very aware that her coping mechanism may be unusual and hard to understand for many people.

In an incredibly moving YouTube video about her "multiple" suicide attempts recently, she began by warning viewers that she may crack some awkward jokes and laugh.

She says in the video: "I know that for people that aren't used to hearing about these topics, it can feel a bit disjointed that I laugh about incredibly heavy things.

"But for me that's really what got me through the really dark times."

She now says, while she's received comments from people criticising her for laughing on YouTube – she's found TikTok is a space she can truly be herself.

“People make you feel so much less alone," she says.

“I think that’s very much just me, I can understand there are many people that would be very upset and would take it personally, and they are so within their rights to, but if someone knows me on a personal level and they want to crack jokes like that, bring it on."

'I've had so many people say, that's the video that saved me'

Janet says she's been inundated with messages from her followers on social media thanking her for her frankness in recent years.

"I’ve had so many people being like, ‘that’s the video that saved me from taking my life that night’," she says.

“You’re just sat there in shock. It’s terrifying. When I was doing that video, I wasn’t getting upset about me taking my life, what upset me the most was when you realise that just because you’re better, doesn’t mean that other people aren’t still going through that.

“That’s the part that breaks my heart. Just because you’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t mean that other people aren’t in darkness.

“That is why I like normalising these topics and talking about these things. The thing that saved me from myself was the fact that people were laughing about the thing that I was taking so seriously.

“I almost died so many times from my own drinking that it was trying to take my life away, so the fact you can laugh off your own demise almost…”

'Lockdown was hard for me'

Janet has spent most of lockdown in a house share with friends in London, but says she struggled at the very start of it as it brought memories back of darker times.

“The start of lockdown was definitely hard for me. I hadn’t spent that much time in my room since I was an alcoholic, because I was a bedroom drinker," she explains.

“Me having to sit in my room, in my own company, I was like, ‘this reminds me of the bad times’. It really brought the memories back…

“I started going to double therapy in a week at the start, as well as lots of AA meetings – sometimes two a day, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to go at all."

It's these meetings – particularly the online therapy – that she says have been so helpful for her throughout.

Meanwhile, she says living with people has also proved a saviour.

“It’s been so much nicer living with people," she insists, “I think the world would have watched my mental breakdown live on Instagram [if I hadn't]!”

'I've made about a year's progress in 3 months'

Janet now says it's only since lockdown that she's truly come to terms with issues she was dealing with as a young teen, that may have triggered some of her mental health battles.

I put pink shampoo in my hair thinking it would do diddly squat 👀 in other news, please buy the digital version of my album as the chart counting stops at midnight tonight 🥺💓

A post shared byJanet Devlin (@janetdevlinofficial) on

“For me, it was more to with my relationships and what I was trying to get out of relationships," she explains.

She says in one previous relationship she felt like she was constantly "chasing validation" from her partner at the time.

“My whole time I was dating him, I don’t even think I loved him, I just wanted him to love me," she explains. “People don’t realise that love can also be an addiction. There is nothing better to an addict than an unpredictable reward system."

She says attending regular online therapy sessions, as well as having more time to herself, has helped her come to terms with those issues though.

"I had a lot of feelings, but in the weirdest way possible, it gave me so many breakthroughs in therapy," she explains.

“I made about a year’s worth of progress in three months. I essentially got to the bottom of my childhood trauma…"

Overall she says the past year and a half has been the best of her life in terms of being her own best friend.

Janet is now focusing on recording more music with the hopes of eventually going on tour and releasing songs that mean a lot to her.

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