Jo Malone reveals she felt ‘ashamed’ of her crippling anxiety attacks after her cancer battle


Jo Malone reveals she felt ‘ashamed’ of the ‘utterly terrifying’ anxiety attacks she suffered while trying to launch her business Jo Loves after her battle with breast cancer

  • Businesswoman, 56, said she felt ashamed of mental health issues after cancer
  • When took five years out of beauty business she said she ‘spiralled into anxiety’
  • She starts hyperventilating and said first time she thought it was a heart attack

Businesswoman Jo Malone has revealed she felt ‘ashamed’ of crippling anxiety attacks she started suffering after fighting cancer.

Speaking on The Joe Wicks podcast, the fragrance entrepreneur, 56, told how she began experiencing mental health issues during her five year period out of the beauty business.

Malone, who sold her company Jo Malone in 1999 but left in 2006 after beating breast cancer, was out of work until she started new brand Jo Loves in 2011.

In that period, Malone says she ‘spiralled into anxiety’ because she ‘lost control of her life’ and became ‘so ashamed’. 

Fragrance entrepreneur Jo Malone, 56, revealed she felt ‘ashamed’ of the crippling anxiety attacks she started suffering after fighting cancer. Her mental health issues started when she took five years out of the beauty industry

Malone sold her company Jo Malone in 1999 but left the industry completely for five years in 2006 after beating breast cancer. She was out of work until she started new brand Jo Loves in 2011

Malone sold her company Jo Malone in 1999 but left the industry completely for five years in 2006 after beating breast cancer. She was out of work until she started new brand Jo Loves in 2011

‘I hadn’t created fragrance for five years,’ she explained. ‘A bit like exercise, if you suddenly come out of something after you do it for five years and then step back into it, you’re completely different person.

‘You have to get yourself back in that rhythm again of building a business again and creating. I just wanted to go back to where I’d left, that moment in time, five years previous.

‘I was very ashamed at the time, but I’m not now I’ve come through it, but I had a really horrible breakdown during that time.

She continued: ‘I could have sat on a beach every day, I didn’t have to [go back to work], I was in a really privileged position…but I suffer from anxiety and I know what my flick switch is – it’s control.

Mum-of-one Jo, pictured after being made a CBE at Buckingham Palace in November 2018, said 'you would have thought cancer would have brought me to my knees' but 'five years with nothing around me' had a devastating impact on her mental health.

Mum-of-one Jo, pictured after being made a CBE at Buckingham Palace in November 2018, said ‘you would have thought cancer would have brought me to my knees’ but ‘five years with nothing around me’ had a devastating impact on her mental health.

‘So the minute I lost that sense of control over my own life I just spiralled into anxiety and it manifested itself in really terrifying ways.

‘It took a year for me to recover and seek help and once I started to understand where anxiety came from, and stop being frightened of it, it stopped having its hold over me.’

Malone went on to say that she starts hyperventilating when she suffers an anxiety attack.

‘The very first time it happened I thought I was having a heart attack… it was utterly terrifying,’ she added. 

‘I was so ashamed. Why should I feel anxiety? I was so ashamed of not being able to control it and not pull myself together. It’s so important to seek and help and talk to somebody.’

Now, after therapy, Malone says she still has anxiety attacks but because she has learnt to live with them and is not frightened of them, ‘they are nothing like they were and I’m not frightened of them’.

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