Stacey Dooley jokes that Strictly producers told her she’d win
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With such an emotionally fraught job covering tough subjects for her documentaries, it’s little wonder that Stacey Dooley sometimes feels stressed. However, ahead of the release of her new book, Are You Really OK?, the 34-year-old has opened up on how difficult it can be to leave the horror stories behind when it’s time to return to her personal life.
I haven’t had any periods when I felt like I can’t cope and I need professional help, but I certainly wouldn’t shy away from it if I was struggling
Stacey is used to a glamorous life, after winning Strictly Come Dancing back in 2018 with her dancer boyfriend Kevin Clifton.
However, combining showbiz events, Michelin starred restaurants, and a life of celebrity luxury with the hard-hitting social justice issues that she reports on when in front of the camera, has proved difficult on occasion.
After a day of interviewing Kyle, a patient on a psychiatric ward, the presenter went out on the town, but was plagued by intrusive thoughts about how he must be feeling.
“It was such a juxtaposition that I was in this semi-fancy restaurant, there was laughing and cheering and people were half cut, and I just remember thinking, ‘All of those people are still in hospital really unwell and Kyle’s probably sat there in silence’,” she mused.
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“Sometimes I feel like: ‘This is a really different place to the one I’ve just been in.’”
Fortunately, her partner Kevin is supportive of her struggles.
“Kev’s incredible. I feel very fortunate to have Kev as my wingman,” she revealed to The Yorkshire Post.
“If I’m at work and I call him and it’s silly o’clock, we’ll have a bit of a debrief and he’s very patient. You need that support network, don’t you?”
The release of her new book, Are You Really OK?, is timed to coincide with her On The Psych Ward documentaries, which follow her experiences chatting with mental health patients in London’s Springfield Hospital.
Yet, amid scenes of emotional meltdowns and therapist interventions, has Stacey ever felt the urge to succumb to therapy herself?
It turns out that the supportive words of her boyfriend and loved ones are enough, with her candidly admitting: “I’ve just never felt like it would be beneficial to me.
“I haven’t had any periods when I felt like I can’t cope and I need professional help, but I certainly wouldn’t shy away from it if I was struggling, and I’d be open about it and quite candid in the hope that other people would go if it would help them.”
“It’s really important to indulge in escapism,” she acknowledged, while pondering how to stay sane despite an often stressful environment .
“You work really hard when you’re at work and give it everything you’ve got, but then you go home and you do have to put the music on and dance in the kitchen and have a takeaway and see your girls. Joy is really important and gives you balance.”
She has also confessed how much she still loves dancing following her stint on Strictly.
When she’s not on duty filming high drama documentaries, she’s trying her utmost to indulge in her more light-hearted side.
“Kev bought me Latin shoes for Christmas and we’re going to dance at the Blackpool Tower,” she revealed.
“Such a lovely gift. I miss dancing. Strictly was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. It was total escapism and good for the soul.”
Stacey Dooley’s book, Are You Really OK? Understanding Britain’s Mental Health Emergency, is released on February 3 by BBC Books, priced at £16.99.
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