Lorraine Kelly: Behind my TV smile, I felt like I was falling apart

As she approaches her 60th birthday, Lorraine Kelly reflects on a life of highs, lows, joy and heartbreak. In your exclusive first look at her new book she reveals all about embracing everything life throws at you and how to Shine through it all. 

I would wake up in the early hours and in my head go over and over daft things that didn’t really matter but felt massive when I was lying in a pitch-black room in a state of panic. 

I was deeply unhappy and felt I wasn’t in control. I could be toddling along quite nicely but one small thing could throw me completely off balance. Someone would only need to say something the wrong way and I’d fall apart. I have always been a positive and resilient person but I wasn’t coping or enjoying life.

I also felt constantly knackered. I put this down to my job, but I’d been getting up early for 35 years and had never felt that way before. I couldn’t get excited about anything, even occasions that should have been full of joy. At one of Rosie’s birthday parties I plastered on a smile and sleepwalked through it. I became obsessed with insignificant concerns and my to-do list loomed over me like a giant black cloud. It wasn’t filled with big things, either, just everyday chores. Normally I’d breeze through stuff like that but I felt constantly panicked. I was so worried I would forget things that I started to write to-do lists of to-do lists. I even had to write down ‘research the guest’ or ‘get changed after the show’.

Lorraine Kelly book extract
Lorraine would cry at home for hours but still made it to the studio to present her show. Image: Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock

The whole point of my TV show is to be positive and inspirational, a little oasis of happiness at the start of every weekday. I was absolutely determined that nobody would know what was going on behind the scenes. It was genuinely hard to get out of bed sometimes. I could see all the wonderful things in my life, I just couldn’t appreciate them. There were times I would sit at home crying for hours but somehow still made it to work every day.

Things escalated when I started worrying about Rosie nonstop. Steve encouraged me to see a doctor and eventually we realised that my menopause could have triggered this acute anxiety. Feeling anxious is part of being human but if it takes over your life and leaves you frozen with pain and terror, you must take action. I went on to HRT and, with the support of Steve and friends, I gradually started to feel better. I was lucky that I responded well to treatment. For others, it can be more complex. 

I’m glad that the menopause has been dragged screaming and kicking into the light but so many women still suffer in silence. I think it should be seen as an empowering, positive development in a woman’s life when you are in your prime – if you have kids they’re probably grown up, giving you the option to change your life completely if you want to. 

The ‘M-word’ will happen to all women, yet we’re not taught about it at school and many GPs are ill-informed. If your GP tries to fob you off with antidepressants and sleeping pills ask for a second opinion. Sadly, women’s health is often not taken seriously and we have to be our own healthcare advocates. Most of the time we have to do the research for ourselves.

Lorraine through the ages

1990

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Presenting in 1990

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Shaun Higson/Portraits/ Alamy Stock Photo

1993

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ITV/REX/Shutterstock

1995

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Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/ Alamy Stock Photo

2004

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ITV/REX/Shutterstock

2011

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Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock

With daughter Rosie in 2015

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WireImage/Karwai Tang

At the High Street Fashion Awards, 2016

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Stills Press/Alamy Stock Photo

At the National Television Awards in January

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David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Post workout in March

Picking up her Television and Radio Industries Club special award in March

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David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Piers Morgan helped celebrate her 35 years in TV on Lorraine last month

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S Meddle/ITV/REX/Shutterst​ock

On the heartache of miscarriage

Being open and honest has helped me through my hardest times, such as my miscarriage in 2001. I discovered I was pregnant in May but from the go this was different from when I carried Rosie, who was then five. I hadn’t suffered any morning sickness with her but I felt queasy straight away this time and was completely exhausted. 

That June we went to Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, for a holiday. On the way there I got a stabbing pain in my right side and the following morning I woke at 4am feeling horrendous. I was bleeding and it was obvious that something wasn’t right. 

Steve drove us to hospital in Dundee. I had prepared myself for the worst but a nurse looked at the ultrasound and said, ‘I think there’s a heartbeat.’ I cried with relief but the good news was not to last. That night I began bleeding again and by the morning I was so weak that Steve called an ambulance. I was trying to pretend everything was OK in front of Rosie but she said I looked ‘as white as a sheep’, bless her heart. At the hospital my fears were confirmed. I had miscarried at just over two months. I was devastated and questioned everything, wondering if I could have done something differently.

One in three women will go through the agony of miscarriage, which is a horrific statistic. But I felt I had to do everything in my power not to blame myself. I felt so sad for Steve, too. We had made plans for the future and we’d been so excited about a little brother or sister for Rosie.

I wanted to get back into a routine as quickly as possible to take my mind off things. But, in retrospect, I went back to work far too early and didn’t allow myself enough time to grieve. As a result, I would regularly break down in tears in private. If I saw a pram in the street, or even someone on the telly with a baby, I would find tears rolling down my cheeks. 

Steve and I didn’t manage to have another baby but I know I am very blessed. I’ve interviewed many women over the years who weren’t able to have a child at all, and some who suffered the devastation of multiple miscarriages, so I am very grateful. 

People are so scared to say the wrong thing when a woman suffers a miscarriage or has a stillbirth that they don’t say anything – and I do understand that. But everyone I’ve spoken to who has lost a baby wants to acknowledge the existence of that child. That baby was very loved and is missed. It shouldn’t be something we don’t discuss or pretend didn’t happen. 

When we go through traumatic experiences, our first instinct can be to hide ourselves away. But in hard times the very best thing you can do is ask for help and be open. 

On learning to love my body

I hate the word ‘fat’ and think it should be banned. It’s a word that followed me around my whole life until I decided it would no longer feature in my vocabulary.

I’ve done every stupid diet in the world and I must have gained and lost the equivalent of my own body weight ten times over the years. Naturally I put on weight when I was pregnant with Rosie but a year after I had given birth people were still asking when I was due. I went up to a size 16 but was kidding myself. I was an 18. After a doctor told me I was endangering my health, I made an effort to eat properly and exercise but it took a long time to reach a balance. 

Since I gave up dieting my body has evened out so I refuse to go on a diet ever again. I no longer count grams of fat or calories and I have learnt the hard way that daft diets ultimately make you fat. Now I know that it’s all about a healthy eating plan (one that allows you to fall off the wagon occasionally) along with regular exercise that you enjoy.

I eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein. If I’m hungry I eat, if I’m not I don’t just for the sake of it. That’s the miracle cure! I’ve realised that you don’t have to live on mung beans and quinoa to be healthy, or starve yourself to be slim.

I’ve thought differently about my body since a horse-riding accident when I was 52. I was learning to ride as part of a charity challenge in 2012. It hugely affected my confidence and forced me to take better care of myself. 

I’d never ridden a horse; I’d always been nervous of how powerful they are. The instructor suggested I try a jump. It wasn’t very large but the horse knew he had a nervous passenger. He stopped dead in front of it and I fell off. Then he reared and his hoof crashed down on my right thigh.

I was rushed to A&E. The hoof missed my artery by millimetres, so I was very lucky, but I still had to have an emergency operation and was given three pints of blood. There was a lot of muscle and nerve damage and it took them an hour and a half to stitch me back up. For a long time I thought the scar was horrific and when I looked in the mirror it was the first thing I saw. I used to cover it up with a sarong on holiday and I wouldn’t wear tight jeans or leggings because I was so self-conscious about the bumpy bulge. 

I had another problem – snacking and a lack of exercise because of the accident. I knew if I went back to my old eating habits I would be as big as a house. I needed to get my leg working and that’s when I knew that I needed to find exercise that I enjoyed. 

This is what has worked for me long-term – eating well combined with doing exercise that I love. It’s so basic it almost feels too easy. No furtively checking the back of packets for calories or fat content, no more skipping meals. Why didn’t someone tell me this when I was 16?

How I’m embracing 60

Lorraine Kelly shine
Blouse, Victoria Beckham at Selfridges. Earrings, Pilgrim. Image: Chris Floyd

I’m honestly having the best time of my life. Our culture prizes youth above all else but people don’t take enough time to think of the benefits of growing older. I feel happier in my own skin and more willing to cut myself a bit of slack and be kinder to myself. I don’t understand why we find it so easy to show kindness towards others but not towards ourselves.

Ageing shouldn’t be scary. Forget a Chanel handbag: the best accessory a woman can have is inner confidence, which shines above all else. I’ve known girls who can walk into a room and every pair of eyes is on them. They may not be the most traditionally beautiful women there, but they will have a unique quality – such as the ability to make people laugh – and that’s what makes them so attractive.

Women are having surgery younger and younger. A 19-year-old does not need Botox. So many women have ruined their faces with filler. I think I look fine as I am and I will never go under the knife. I like my laughter lines (a much nicer way of saying wrinkles). I hate that women make themselves miserable every time they look in the mirror. Your wrinkles tell your story. It’s an individual choice whether or not to have work done but I wish we could all be a little more accepting of ourselves and the ageing process. Because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not.

This is an edited extract from Shine by Lorraine Kelly, to be published by Century on 31 October, price £20