Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

'I have my ups and downs but on the whole the downs are not as low as they used to be'

Singer, ambassador and newly 30 mum-of-two Frankie Bridge still has periods of depression, but here she tells Gabrielle Fagan life is good and explains why she wants to start circus training

Frankie Bridge was just 12 when she first found fame as one of tween pop group S Club Juniors, and at 18 became a member of the hugely successful The Saturdays. While the group, formed in 2007 with Mollie King, Vanessa White, Una Healy and Rochelle Humes, have been on a break for a good few years now ("There's no plans for us to perform together at the moment, but never say never," Bridge says), she has flourished.

The multi-talented mum-of-two - she has two sons, Parker (5) and Carter (3)- with her husband, the retired footballer Wayne Bridge) reached the finals of Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, and has never shied away from revealing the real person behind the celebrity image. This includes talking openly about the depression she's experienced. Bridge was hospitalised as a result of the illness in 2011 and is now an ambassador for mental health charity Mind.

Here, Bridge, who has just celebrated her 30th birthday, talks about her health, family and hopes for the future...

How do you feel about turning 30?

Truthfully, I'm in denial. I think I've always done everything so young... I started working when I was 12 and got married and had the kids in my 20s. I can't believe they're over and I'm now 30. It sounds really grown-up, but I don't feel grown-up.

I'm not anticipating I'll change with age. I think I'll always be a bit of a perfectionist and quite self-critical. I'm a little more accepting of the fact that now I've had kids, my body's not going to be exactly the same as it used to be, but I'm always going to feel, 'I could do better at this, that and the other'. It's just the way I am.

You've been open about your problems with anxiety and depression - how are you coping with that?

Being open about the problem has 100% made such a difference. I have my ups and downs, but on the whole the downs aren't as low as they used to be. It's something that I always have to monitor, and I recognise it's part of my life. If I feel I need therapy, I go for it, and I can always talk to my family and friends and call them and have a chat if I'm having a rubbish day. That's about it, really.

Keeping busy is good for me, and the kids definitely help with that. If I spend too much time at home, I can get in a rut where I'm bored and find it difficult to leave the house, so it's very important for me to stay active and stimulated.

How important is Wayne to your happiness?

He's at the heart of it. He's amazing and a brilliant dad. We're very equal (in parenting), and I wouldn't expect it any other way. My parents were always working and both looked after us and cooked dinner. It was never set roles like, 'You do this and I do that'. Wayne and I are like that. He's changed as many nappies as I have and he looks after the kids as much as I do.

The only funny difference is that if Wayne is having a massage or a bath, the boys leave him alone and he has his moment's peace. For me, I end up with sharks in my bath attacking me, or them climbing onto the massage table or peering at me from underneath through the hole. It's constant attention from morning until night.

Would you like more children?

We'd both love a big family, but I really don't enjoy being pregnant, so it would be quite a big decision for me to be pregnant again because I feel like I'm just getting stuck into work (While pregnant with Carter, Bridge suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum, the severe form of morning sickness that also affected the Duchess of Cambridge).

Parker's started school, which he loves, and Carter will start next year, and I do think, 'I haven't got a little baby anymore, maybe I need another one'. But then I have a day when they're driving me mad and I think, 'Nooo, what were you thinking?'.

We're lucky the boys are very close. Parker's a really good big brother who's patient with Carter, and Carter idolises him.

Do you feel confident about your parenting?

Not really - does anyone? I think you go on learning as they grow up. I feel kids throw new challenges at you, just when you think it's okay. I have days where they're lovely, polite and really good all day, and I start thinking, 'I'm quite good at this, I've raised some good humans'. Then I'll have a day when they're absolute nightmares and I think, 'Oh God, what have I done? I'm rubbish at this'.

They have a privileged life, but we aren't lavish in the things that we do with them because we want them to appreciate things and realise they have to be worked for. So, they do normal things, like go to the park and spend lots of time with our families, and we don't go on masses of holidays. I think it's important that they see we have to work to have the life we have.

What's your exercise regime?

I'm someone who goes through phases of what I do, because I get bored very easily. Wayne recently made me do a 25-minute home workout and my legs were dying at the end of it.

Lately I'm getting back on track with eating really healthily and going to the gym, I want to try new things this year. Like circus training with aerial silks and rope, which looks fun and is different from sweating away in the gym.

What's your ambition as a performer?

I'd love to get into musical theatre. I had acting lessons last year, but my nerves and self-doubt got in the way a little bit with that. I want to go back to the classes again and put some time into it, which will boost my confidence. I love trying new things.

I still have so many happy memories of Strictly Come Dancing, and I was thrilled to see my partner, Kevin Clifton, win. He so deserved it because he's incredibly talented and lovely to work with.

Frankie Bridge is launching the new McDonalds Spicy Veggie Wrap. Frankie joins the third (33%) of customers wanting to include more meat-free meals in their diet. At under 400 calories, the Vegetarian Society-accredited wrap is a lower-calorie choice for those looking for lunch on the go

'I have my ups and downs but on the whole the downs are not as low as they used to be'

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