Gail: “Sleep­ing rough was my rock bot­tom – but now I’m the hap­pi­est I’ve ever been”

Gail Porter tells Closer why she loves strangers hug­ging her in Sains­bury’s and how her teenage daugh­ter Honey has been her rock

Closer (UK) - - Contents - By Katie Banks

With her warm smile and in­fec­tious gig­gle, it’s hard to be­lieve that Gail Porter has bat­tled such re­lent­less trauma for over a decade. Af­ter a me­te­oric rise as a TV pre­sen­ter and model in the 1990s, work dried up when she was di­ag­nosed with hair-loss con­di­tion alope­cia in 2005, which tied in with the end of her five-mar­riage to To­ploader’s Dan Hip­grave, dad to her daugh­ter Honey.

Adding to Gail’s mis­ery, she also suf­fered from anorexia and hor­rific de­pres­sion, which saw her sec­tioned and di­ag­nosed with bipolar dis­or­der. At her low­est point, she was home­less for a whole year be­cause she couldn’t pay her rent. While Gail says she was able to crash on friends’ so­fas, when she had nowhere to go she slept on a park bench on Hamp­stead Heath.

But Gail cred­its her close re­la­tion­ship with Honey, now 15, for pulling her through.

“A lot of my friends say that I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for Honey,” says Gail, who’s cur­rently writ­ing a book about her roller- coaster life. “I can’t be­lieve she’s go­ing to be 16 this year. She’s ab­so­lutely per­fect. She’s the strong­est per­son I know and my best friend. We talk about ev­ery­thing and she’s def­i­nitely a fighter like me. Now she’s older, she un­der­stands how hard it’s been for me.

TURN­ING POINT

“She’s fig­ur­ing life out at the mo­ment and, although she can do any­thing she wants, part of me hopes she doesn’t go into show­biz. Honey is amaz­ing at maths. We watch Count­down to­gether and she even beats the host Rachel Ri­ley! I hope she does some­thing with that.”

And brave Gail, who also trag­i­cally lost her mum to breast can­cer in 2009, says af­ter sur­viv­ing so many knocks in life, she’s fi­nally turned a cor­ner and has found true hap­pi­ness.

“This is the hap­pi­est pe­riod of my life,” smiles Gail. “I have great friends around me, I’ve just started rent­ing a flat in North Lon­don and I’ve got a cat! Sleep­ing rough was my rock bot­tom and I’ve been deeply de­pressed. I want to make the most of every day now.”

She adds, “I was in Sains­bury’s the other day and a com­plete stranger ran up to me and started hug­ging me. I just thought, ‘Crack on!’ She told me that she’d also bat­tled de­pres­sion and thanked me for be­ing so open about my own trou­bles. I wanted to cry my eyes out. It made me feel that if I can make some­one else feel good, I’m not use­less af­ter all.”

And Gail says tak­ing up run­ning and hav­ing her eye­brows tat­tooed by Karen Betts, whose char­ity The Gift Of Con­fi­dence boosts peo­ple’s self es­teem through restora­tive treat­ments, has re­ally helped her.

FULL OF EN­ERGY

Gail, who is cur­rently sin­gle, says, “I’m up early and run­ning every morn­ing. I’m train­ing for Race For Life’s 5K and it’s given me so much pos­i­tive en­ergy.

“The idea of hav­ing my eye­brows done freaked me out be­cause I’m not a fan of those re­ally strong Towie-style brows. But Karen did them so nat­u­rally, I burst into tears when I saw them be­cause it made my face feel less scrubbed out and I could feel girlie again.

“I used to al­ways wear base­ball caps be­cause I was so self-con­scious about my ap­pear­ance. I felt too ugly to even wear dresses, but now I’m tak­ing them out of the wardrobe again.”

And for­mer model Gail – whose naked body was fa­mously pro­jected on to the Houses Of Par­lia­ment as part of a mag­a­zine

stunt in 1999 – ad­mits that, although her hair is partly grow­ing back, she no longer cares whether it re­turns fully. Gail says, “My hair is com­ing back as white fluff so it looks a bit like a halo, but it’s come back and gone so many times, I don’t waste time think­ing about it. Even though my naked arse has been seen by mil­lions, I’ve never felt sexy or had much self­con­fi­dence. I don’t think I’m pretty, but I’m a good per­son and I can make peo­ple smile. “The Kar­dashian-led big bum and gi­gan­tic lip cul­ture doesn’t mean any­thing. The mes­sage should be that beauty comes from within. Just be your­self – you only have one life.”

‘I want to make the most of every day now’

● For more info, go to www. karen­betts.com

Here with Honey and ex-hus­band Dan in hap­pier times

She says she wore caps as

she was so self-con­scious

Hav­ing her eye­brows tat­tooed by Karen

Her naked im­age on was pro­jected to the Houses Of Par­lia­ment in 1999

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