‘I was pushing myself too hard!’ Andrea McLean opens about the secret breakdown she suffered last year

Andrea McLean comes across as one of the happiest people on telly, lighting up our lunchtimes on Loose Women almost every day.

So it was a surprise when she recently confessed to having a breakdown last year, keeping it a secret until now.

Our sister publication Woman’s Own caught up with the 50-year-old presenter, who revealed what actually drove her to ‘crack up’ and how she’s managed to cope since.

Andrea also chats about why she’s been so grateful to have her husband of two and a half years, Nick Feeney, and children Finlay, 18, and Amy, 13, in lockdown, and their plans for once it’s lifted.

Hi Andrea, how has lockdown been treating you?

It’s weird, but, touch wood, we’ve all been healthy and well, so I think that’s all we can be thankful for.

How has it been spending more time together as a family?

What’s been really nice is, although we’re all together, we’re not on top of each other. We’ve all cordoned off little spaces in the house to do our work during the day, and then we’ve made sure we’ve done fun things together. It’s been like a very long, weird, summer holiday!

Andrea with husband Nick | Getty

You’ve launched an online marketplace on your website This Girl is On Fire during lockdown with your husband, Nick. How has that affected your relationship?

Anyone who runs a business knows it’s stressful, never mind launching one in the middle of a global pandemic. We’ve realised we need to work separately, because we’d drive each other mad and we work at different paces. But we’ve also learned some great things about each other.

I admire him so much, I think he’s the most driven and creative person I’ve ever met. He’s amazing and I think that I love him even more now, because I can just see how much he wants to protect us all and look after us all, he wants our business to work and all he wants is for everyone to be happy. So yeah, it’s been good, and I know I’m really lucky because obviously it’s taken a few goes to get here!

MORE: Andrea McLean opens up on feeling 'lost and vulnerable' before marriage counselling 

What was it like returning to Loose Women?

It was quite emotional to see the ladies for the first time, but because we all automatically wanted to run towards each other and have a big hug, to just stand there and not go near each other was really weird. But, with that said, once we got started, it was lovely. I hadn’t belly-laughed like that for six weeks, and it was so nice to talk to other people rather than people in your house!

You spoke on Loose Women about having a breakdown. How are you feeling, health-wise, at the moment?

Yeah, I feel really good. I think I’ve learned what my pace is, whereas I was pushing myself to just keep going and going and I’ve realised now that actually I don’t operate that way. I don’t like to let anyone down so I always say yes to everything and then end up running around in circles. I was trying to slay every day, get up at half-five, go to the gym, make sure I only have smoothies, and in the end I just burnt out and fell down.

How did you overcome it?

I asked for help, and I think that’s the key thing that I would say to anybody, especially now, as there will be a lot of people who are feeling really vulnerable and a bit wobbly. I didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t ask for help, I thought I could just push it down and crack on, and, actually, you don’t crack on, you crack up, and that was my biggest thing.

Now you are feeling better, what are you most looking forward to after lockdown?

The kids want to go to McDonald’s, but I want to go on holiday. Once it’s safe to do so, I can’t wait to fly somewhere with blue skies, white sands and blue sea, have a cocktail, and just chill out.

Visit Andrea’s website at thisgirlisonfire.com

Hayley is a Celebrity Features Editor with more than five years' experience in online and magazines. She currently looks after all things celebrity for Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly, Woman & Home, and Goodto.com. Before joining Future, Hayley spent a year as a TV reporter for Mirror Online and a year and a half as a showbiz and TV reporter for OK! Online - but was forced to write about tech and cars for a year before that, despite knowing nothing about either!.