ON Love Island he won over the nation with his cheeky-chappy persona and wild sex with now-girlfriend AMBER DAVIES.
But today KEM CETINAY bravely reveals he very nearly never made it on to the ITV2 show, after spending a decade battling depression and anxiety that left him unable to leave the house.
Kem, a semi-professional footballer and “always one of the popular kids”, began to struggle with anxiety aged ten after his mum was struck down by septicaemia and went into a coma.
In an exclusive interview on World Mental Health Day, he tells me: “I started becoming obsessive about my mum, I wouldn’t leave her side.”
Things got worse after he suffered a panic attack for the first time on a train.
Kem explains: “My confidence dropped, I couldn’t get on trains. It was the first time I’d had a panic attack, I didn’t know what it was.”
His mental health issues intensified at 14 when an op to remove his tonsils went wrong and he was left with kidney failure.
Kem’s loving mum Figen, who sits in on our interview, says that “overnight he became a recluse” as he stopped going to school and his panic attacks worsened.
Kem adds: “After the operation — I’d lost so much weight — my football started going downhill so I lost all my confidence.
“I thought everyone was looking at me and it just escalated. I refused to go out to public places.
“I started having to leave lessons because I felt like I was having a panic attack.
“Then it started going from once a week to every day, then I started to refuse to go to school. It was then they decided they wanted me to see someone.”
Predictably, Kem began to fail his exams. He would often spend days at a time without leaving his bedroom.
On a family holiday to Mexico he stayed in the hotel room for 14 days.
He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and put on anti-depressants. But his parents feared the impact the pills were having.
Kem explains: “I felt drowsy, it was scary. I felt drugged up, to be honest. They were strong.
“There was a point in the three-year spell I wasn’t really living, I wasn’t doing anything. I was completely depressed.
“I had thoughts that I didn’t want to live my life any more.
“I felt there was no value to it. I lost all the things I enjoyed doing.”
For years Kem’s parents took him to counsellors, psychiatrists and even hypnotists.
Treatment enabled him to leave the house to take a nine-week course to become a barber.
He explains: “We went to eight therapists and it wasn’t working. Then we saw this one lady and it just turned.
“She gave me so many techniques to talk to people and constantly meditate.
“It was the hardest nine-months of my life. I had loads of breathing exercises that I was doing that would always calm me down.”
Kem’s problems made it difficult to bond with the opposite sex.
It was only months before Love Island that things changed.
He explains: “When I said in the villa I’d never had a girlfriend, this was a big part of it. I never knew how to speak to girls, I never had the confidence.
“The year before Love Island was the only one where I felt more comfortable talking to people in general.”
This is the first time Kem has spoken publicly about his issues. He decided to do it to help others who are dealing with similar problems, and is planning a campaign with Childline to raise awareness of mental health.
On his girlfriend, he explains: “When I told Amber she was really shocked and emotional. She can’t believe how different I am now.
“I honestly believe my life started from 20, that’s how I look at it.”
Jesy off the chain
LITTLE MIX’s Glory Days Tour cements their claim to be the biggest girlband in the world.
They kicked off their whopping 37-date UK arena run in Aberdeen on Monday and packed their 90-minute set full with costumes, confetti and choreography.
Storming on to the stage in a blaze of flames and lights, JADE THIRLWALL, LEIGH-ANNE PINNOCK, JESY NELSON and PERRIE EDWARDS gave a huge performance of their recent single Power, and it got even more energetic from there.
In a spectacular move, they strutted along a Perspex catwalk suspended above the audience while singing Your Love, Nothing Else Matters and an emotional rendition of Secret Love Song.
And while the girls were each flanked by two male backing dancers, it was definitely Little Mix who wore the trousers on stage.
They showed off four different outfits, with highlights being Jesy in a leather leotard and chains,and Perrie in thigh-high glitter boots and a T-shirt emblazoned with Ex. With more than enough hit tunes to pack into their tour, there isn’t a dull moment.
Jesy Nelson shares sizzling clip from new Little Mix music video for Reggaetón Lento
Paris takes the Mic-hael
PARIS JACKSON looks set to continue her father MICHAEL’s musical legacy – by teaming up with THE JACKSONS.
Her uncle TITO is an original member of the group and has been giving her singing lessons in secret. He hopes she and the band can do a collaboration.
In an exclusive interview, he revealed: “Paris is great, she’s very talented. She loves playing guitar.
“She’s singing quite a bit now and she’s great. I’ve been coaching her on her music, a few chords here and there.
“She should do a collaboration with us. Anything is possible, but she’s a talented young girl. All we have to do is set it up.” Paris revealed earlier this year that she has been writing music – and even penned one tune with PAUL McCARTNEY in mind. She said: “He’s the love of my life. I wrote a song I’d like him to sing, but it probs won’t happen.”
Paris, left, landed her first acting gig this year, in Fox TV series Star, about three wannabe girl singers. And she signed a deal with IMG Models, the agency behind GIGI and BELLA HADID, KATE MOSS and KARLIE KLOSS.
One to watch.
Biz meter: mags
SINITTA’s finally softening towards her ex-boyfriend SIMON COWELL. After telling me he can “Kiss my black ass” for replacing her with CHERYL at The X Factor judges’ houses, she explained to New!: “I know Simon is an ass, but he’s my ass. It’s one of those things.” Cute.
MICHELLE KEEGAN is managing without husband MARK WRIGHT while filming Our Girl in Malaysia, but she must have her slippers. She told Heat: “I like walking around in my comfies, and I take tea bags as well. I need Yorkshire Tea bags.”
CARA DE LA HOYDE doesn’t expect on-off boyfriend NATHAN MASSEY to stay cool during the birth of their child. The pregnant former Love Island winner told Reveal: “My mum’s going to be the one with the level head. Nathan’s going to be on gas and air.”
FEW had heard of him before he married CHERYL, but JEAN-BERNARD FERNANDEZ-VERSINI reckons his showbiz circle was bigger before. The French restaurateur told Now: “I’d done the Film Festival in Cannes since I was 17. I grew up with all those American stars.”
- JAMIROQUAI frontman JAY KAY has let slip he has married Maria, his long-term partner and mum to his two daughters, as he thanked his “wife” in his BMI London President’s Award acceptance speech on Monday.
- TOM PETTY’s death certificate lists the immediate cause as “deferred”, meaning officials are still waiting for autopsy results, US website TMZ has revealed. The rock icon suffered a cardiac arrest on October 2.