Nadiya Hussain reveals how she’s coped with mental health struggles in lockdown

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  • Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain reveals how she has cheered her family up over the past year…

    Since being crowned winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2015, Nadiya Hussain has become a national treasure in the UK.

    Her hilarious facial expressions and unflappable attitude were just some of the reasons millions of viewers fell in love with her on the hit Channel 4 show back when it was on the BBC.

    Since stepping into the spotlight, Nadiya hasn’t looked back. She has penned several cookbooks, presented her own TV shows and was even assigned the coveted role of baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake.

    But over the past year, like many of us, Nadiya has spent more time at home with her family thanks to the national lockdowns, and she tells us it has been a real roller coaster of emotions.

    ‘I’ve had really bad days and weeks in lockdown, and then there are times when I feel great,’ reveals Nadiya, 36, who has been open about her panic attacks and anxiety issues spurred on by the abuse and bullying she received as a child.

    ‘Whether you suffer with mental health issues or not, I think we’ve all struggled to some extent,’ she says. ‘For me, it’s hard because I have to keep it together for my young family, but what I’ve found helpful is to be honest and say to the kids, “I’m struggling today and I know you are too, so let’s work through it together.”’

    The star adds, ‘I have had counselling in the past and it has really helped. Although, I’m very fortunate that I can ring my sisters or my brother – or even my nan – and just have a chat. I know there are lots of people out there who don’t have tons of family to vent to.’

    Nadiya and her husband, Abdal, 39, had an arranged marriage in 2005 when she was 19 years old – and had only met once prior to their wedding day. But the pair decided to tie the knot for a second time here in the UK in 2018, having taken their first vows in Bangladesh.

    ‘The fact that I married him twice is commitment,’ Nadiya laughs. ‘Our marriage is great. I know lots of people who aren’t together any more because of the pandemic, and I feel very lucky that we’ve come out of this stronger than we were before.’

    She adds, ‘I adore my husband – he’s my best friend and I absolutely love him. He has lost lots of friends to COVID who were all around the same age as him – ranging from 39 to 43 years old – and I also lost an uncle. All these people were from the Bangladeshi community and I don’t know if it’s the same for others. These people all lived within streets of one another, so it’s genuinely heartbreaking to watch,’ she says.

    ‘Thankfully my husband is tough and that’s what I love about him,’ she continues. ‘He is the guardian of our family and, as his wife, I do my best to be there for him. I make him cake every day, especially when he’s sad because it makes him happy.’

    Along with their daughter, Maryam, 10, the couple share two sons, Musa, 14, and Dawud, 13, and the culinary guru confesses, ‘I spend every day in the kitchen, but it’s very rare that I get to the food before my two teenage boys – they’re growing quickly.’

    Another fan of Nadiya’s creativity skills is none other than Prince William, with whom she was paired on A Berry Royal Christmas in 2019.

    ‘Prince William, goodness me, was just so normal,’ the MBE recipient reveals. ‘I think I even high-fived him at one point. We had lots of little chats in-between [filming]. He and Kate love cooking, especially with the kids during the holiday season, and that’s what made me realise that they’re just people like us.’

    *The Nadiya Forever Comfort shoe edit collection is now available at Next