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Nadiya Hussain reveals she used to count her family before sleep to make sure they ‘wouldn’t die’

Bake Off winner Nadia Hussain has revealed the full extent of her crippling anxiety, and says as a child she felt she had to count her family members on her fingers before going to sleep, or else they would die.

The mother-of-three, 34, from Luton, filmed Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT sessions) with a therapist for BBC documentary ‘Anxiety and Me’, which aired tonight at 9pm. 

She explained that violent and severe bullying she suffered as a teenager, alongside seeing her youngest brother and sister in-and-out of hospital has left her with the constant fear she’s going to die.

She revealed: ‘I remember saying to myself if I didn’t repeat everybody’s names before I fell asleep, everyone would die.’

Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, 34, from Luton, filmed her therapy sessions for the BBC documentary Anxiety and Me, which aired tonight at 9pm

Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, 34, from Luton, filmed her therapy sessions for the BBC documentary Anxiety and Me, which aired tonight at 9pm 

The Bake Off star has become one of the most popular of the show’s winners, and has rarely left the spotlight since she appeared on the programme in 2015.

But she struggles with crippling anxiety that leads her to ‘worry about everything’.  

She revealed she’s been scared of opening up about her panic attacks, in case it could lead to her young children being taken away.

She revealed: ‘One of the things that stopped me from ever seeing a professional was the thought that someone would say you’re crazy, tie me up, stick me in a white van and take my children away.’ 

The Bake Off star revealed to three of her sisters that she used to recite their names at night before going to sleep to ensure they didn't die

The Bake Off star revealed to three of her sisters that she used to recite their names at night before going to sleep to ensure they didn’t die

One of her sisters admitted she'd seen her sister counting on her hand, but never knew what it was for

One of her sisters admitted she’d seen her sister counting on her hand, but never knew what it was for 

The baking star opened up to her sisters on the programme, who were shocked by the extent of her anxiety.

When she explained to her siblings on the show that she felt she had to repeat each of their names before she went to sleep one of her sisters exclaimed: ‘Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of pressure.’

She explained that she used to count out the family names on her fingers, and that it became a habit. 

Nadiya revealed she was severely bullied in school, but never told her parents about it as her two youngest siblings were in and out of hospital with serious health problems

Nadiya revealed she was severely bullied in school, but never told her parents about it as her two youngest siblings were in and out of hospital with serious health problems

Another of her sisters said: ‘That’s what you were doing at night! I would always watch you do that and I would think “why does she do that?”.’

Nadiya revealed: ‘A voice tells me in my head I’m not good enough. I’m inadequate, I’m a bad mother, I’m the worst sister in the world, I’m the most disappointing daughter that ever lived.’

She went on: ‘I can’t appreciate the fact I have beautiful children, a wonderful husband, an amazing family.’ 

Nadiya's sisters were shocked at her revelation, and were left wondering how she managed to get through each day

Nadiya’s sisters were shocked at her revelation, and were left wondering how she managed to get through each day 

The Bake Off star started crying during a filmed CBT session with a therapist, who encouraged her to confront her anxiety head on

The Bake Off star started crying during a filmed CBT session with a therapist, who encouraged her to confront her anxiety head on 

Her sister later admitted to the camera: ‘As her older sister, I didn’t realise how deep it actually is.’ 

‘The details in that…when she was telling me about how she used to count down. That blew my mind. I thought really – she actually does that?’

Speaking about her younger sister, she was left wondering: ‘How does one get through the day?’ 

After several therapy sessions, Nadiya was able to identify that her first panic attack occured while she was suffering violent bullying as a teenager. 

Abdul, Nadiya's husband, was also shocked by the extent of his wife's anxiety, but promised to continue supporting her

Abdul, Nadiya’s husband, was also shocked by the extent of his wife’s anxiety, but promised to continue supporting her 

The couple are determined to work through Nadiya's anxiety and panic disorders together, with Abdul promising he'll help her in whatever way he can

The couple are determined to work through Nadiya’s anxiety and panic disorders together, with Abdul promising he’ll help her in whatever way he can 

She explained that the bullying started in primary school, where people would pick on her for ‘being dark’. 

She said: ‘They would wait in corners and pull chunks of my hair out until it was bleeding.

‘They slammed my fingers in doors, all my finger nails fell out.’

But by far the most triggering memory for Nadiya involved one moment in the final year of school, when school bullies pushed her head into a toilet bowl.  

The Bake Off star admitted that traumatic bullying at school could be at the core of her panic attacks

The Bake Off star admitted that traumatic bullying at school could be at the core of her panic attacks 

Fearing she was going to drown, she said: ‘I still have that memory of the water going up my nose and knowing that if they don’t pull me up now I am going to drown with my head in this toilet.’

‘And they eventually stopped and they left me. And I hid under the sink and I had a panic attack.  

She went on: ‘If I could erase one memory then I would take that memory out of my head.’

She never told her parents as both her youngest brother and sister had life threatening diseases when they were born, and they were often in and out of hospital. 

Nadiya knows her treatment isn't finished, but revealed at the end of the documentary that she was feeling hopeful about beating her anxiety

Nadiya knows her treatment isn’t finished, but revealed at the end of the documentary that she was feeling hopeful about beating her anxiety 

Before the BBC programme, Nadiya had never had a diagnosis. But after seeing a specialist GP, she was told she had high levels of anxiety and was possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the school incident. 

Nadiya’s husband Abdal, who was equally shocked by the extent of her anxiety, vowed to support her through any treatment she needs.

And following therapy combined with support from her siblings and Abdal, she started to control her anxiety.

By the end of the episode she could present a cooking class to an audience while keeping her glasses on – something she never used to do – as she would prefer not to see faces.

She concluded: ‘I know my treatment isn’t finished and I know I’ve got a long way to go but I feel ready for it. I already see little glimmers. So I know there’s hope.’ 

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Written by Angle News

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