I'm not a popstar. I don't know how it really feels to be a popstar. I wouldn't want to even begin to imagine.
I do know what it's like to live with anxiety. To never know when your brain might suddenly freak out and stop you carrying out the most basic of tasks. The things others take for granted, the thing I might just have completed the day before without any struggle.
It's unpredictable. It's debilitating. It's frightening. You aren't in control of your own emotions. You're a puppet, with that big black cloud taking over whenever it wants.
Reading Zayn's statement was heartbreaking. Sure, he's been the butt of a few 'normal guy' jokes since calling it a day with One Direction and jumping into a solo career (complete with high profile relationship, but this was no laughing matter. He was about to make a solo appearance in front of tens of thousands of people inside Wembley Stadium. That's gotta be overwhelming for the most seasoned performer.
He spoke of how anxiety has "haunted" him for the last few months, and as anyone familiar knows, that's exactly how it feels.
I know there are thousands of disappointed fans, people who probably paid out for tickets specifically to see their favourite up on that stage. They'll be gutted, angry and probably not give a toss about the reasons for such a late cancellation. But I really hope that once those initial feelings subside they can read that statement and understand the situation just a small bit.
Then there are those who so fleetingly dismiss it. It's his job. He's used to performing. He looked fine yesterday... Oh dear, where does one even begin with that?
"You don't look depressed!" - one of my favourite lines from a psychiatrist saw last year. Yes, an actual clinical psychiatrist. It doesn't give me much hope for everyone else's understanding and grasp of mental health. But if the media are going to judge Zayn Malik for it, they need to be aware of the millions of others they are judging just as carelessly.
I might not have needed to delight thousands of teenage girls, but there where plenty of mornings where I found myself rooted to the spot at my flat door, unable to walk down the steps onto the busy London street. Days where I would get to a tube station, freak out and have to call a taxi to get me to where I needed to be. Days where I would be at an event and suddenly find myself crying in the bathroom out of sheer stress at not knowing what to do because I was alone. I might have happily walked into the office the next day. I wasn't deciding when and where to become a victim of anxiety. I was always just waiting, on alert for the next meltdown. It could be 8am or 8pm, at home alone or out with a friend. We don't get to decide. Sorry about that.
The waiting hasn't changed. Eventually it all drove me out of my job, out of London, away from people I loved being around. It would have been absolutely lovely to sort my shit out and save the career I love, but that wasn't me to be. Beaten? Maybe. Giving up? No chance.
I am full of nothing but admiration for Zayn in admitting his battle. He should not be ashamed of it. He is living his dream and will hopefully, with his fans support, find a way to keep achieving his goals.
I find that absolutely inspiring right now, and I hope anyone else who understands, who experiences such things or who knows someone who does, will do as well. It's another step in the right direction with this mental health conversation - don't let anyone destroy that.