ROB MILLS The Aus­tralian Idol alum talks about how fame al­most killed him.

In a can­did in­ter­view,the singer and ac­tor tells WHO about the time he was at his low­est and how he has worked hard to move on

WHO - - Contents - By Gavin Scott

Pro­pelled to fame in the first sea­son of Aus­tralian Idol in 2003, Rob “Millsy” Mills be­came in­stantly recog­nis­able to mil­lions of peo­ple around the coun­try. We all thought we knew him—he’d been pre­sented as a 21-year-old lar­rikin with an eye for the ladies—but we didn’t know what was go­ing on be­neath the sur­face. Con­fronted by a crowd on the Gold Coast shortly af­ter be­ing elim­i­nated from the sing­ing com­pe­ti­tion, he suf­fered a ma­jor panic at­tack and ad­mits thoughts of end­ing his life flashed through his mind. “It was ter­ri­fy­ing,” the 36-year-old ac­tor and singer re­calls. “I was be­ing grabbed and

mobbed and put in head­locks. It was like, ‘ Why? I’m just a per­son.’ I had a hor­ri­ble time that night. I dove in some­one’s car and just told them to drive. I went to my ho­tel and thought about jump­ing off my bal­cony. That mo­ment was, ‘ Well, this could be it, Rob. You could end it right now and you wouldn’t have to worry about peo­ple grab­bing you and the panic you’re feel­ing.’ ”

Mills dis­cusses the mo­ment in the new sea­son of ABC se­ries You Can’t Ask That— he fea­tures in the ex-re­al­ity stars episode air­ing July 18 and avail­able now on iview—and tells WHO, “That was re­ally the first time I’d ever thought about [do­ing] that. I didn’t know who I was—i think that’s all it was. Ev­ery­body seemed to know who I was. I’ve worked pretty hard over the past 15 years to find out who that per­son is.”

Even though Mills de­scribes the in­ci­dent as “a split-sec­ond thought” he says it’s one he “will never for­get, that weighs heav­ily on my be­ing. I was most cer­tainly not okay and felt like I didn’t have any­one with me that night I could just be my­self with.”

Mills was able to call his brother and cred­its that with help­ing him through his cri­sis. “He still to this day is a very good rock,” he says. “It’s good to have an older brother to keep you grounded, and I’ve got two. I don’t think I men­tioned [my suicidal thoughts] at all—i just needed to talk to some­one. I don’t think I told him un­til years later. Be­cause of that night and other things I’ve gone through in my life, I feel like you need to be sur­rounded by peo­ple who give a s--t about you, who ac­tu­ally care. They can ask if you’re OK and be there to lis­ten.”

While Mills says, “It never got that bad [again],” he does ad­mit to hav­ing other pe­ri­ods of not feel­ing okay. “Maybe my per­son­al­ity type has higher highs than most peo­ple and there­fore I have lower lows,” he con­tin­ues. “There were times when I’ve done a gig or tour and come back and just been re­ally flat. I’m great at en­ter­tain­ing an au­di­ence, but then I come home and that’s all I think I am. It takes time to learn [who you are] and put those build­ing blocks in place.”

The en­ter­tainer says the process of get­ting to know him­self “will never stop, whether it’s through books or ther­apy or great con­nec­tions or travel. If it’s there, I’ve done it and will con­tinue to keep try­ing new things. You never stop grow­ing or chang­ing.”

Most im­por­tant of all, ac­cord­ing to Mills, who is an am­bas­sador for R U OK Day, is that “peo­ple need to have more con­ver­sa­tions about how they’re feel­ing and not fear the judge­ment that comes with it. Not fear that, ‘Oh, you’re weak.’ Peo­ple are scared to be vul­ner­a­ble, and I learnt a few years ago when you show your vul­ner­a­bil­ity, that’s when you ac­tu­ally show your strength.”

Those dark mo­ments don’t come so of­ten any­more, Mills says. “I re­alised I needed to stop wor­ry­ing so much about what other peo­ple thought of me and re­alised I had a good grasp of who I was. I did a cabaret show a few years ago called Rob Mills Is Sur­pris­ingly Good. Maybe it was me who was per­pet­u­at­ing the no­tion that I was ‘sur­pris­ingly’ good. I de­cided if I take own­er­ship of that la­bel, maybe I can just be ‘good’.”

“I dove in some­one’s car and just told them to drive”

* If you or some­one you know needs help, call Life­line on 13 11 14. The R U OK Con­ver­sa­tion Con­voy com­mences on July 30. Go to www.ruok. org.au/con­ver­sa­tion-con­voy for de­tails.

“I’m pretty blokey but I’m in the­atre and I’m sur­rounded by very emo­tional peo­ple who are very in touch with their feel­ings,” Mills says about dis­cussing his highs and lows, “so we talk a lot in my cir­cle.” SELF BE­LIEF “We live in a coun­try of knock­ers,”

“I’m rapt to be a part of this show,” Mills says of You Can’t Say That. “What they’ve done to start con­ver­sa­tion in this coun­try is in­cred­i­ble. De­bate is healthy.”

Aus­tralian Idol’s Sea­son 1 top five in 2003 (from left): Cosima De Vito, Guy Se­bas­tian, Paulini Cu­ru­e­navuli, Shan­non Noll and Mills.

“For a long time, I wanted to prove peo­ple wrong that I wasn’t just the guy who had slept with a celebrity,” Mills says of his wellpub­li­cised tryst with Paris Hil­ton.

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