Liam Payne Details “Really Severe” Mental Health and Sobriety Struggles While in One Direction

Liam Payne revealed how fame took a toll on him as a teenager, leading to suicidal thoughts and substance abuse as the superstar hit "rock bottom."

By Lindsay Weinberg Jun 08, 2021 10:36 PMTags
Watch: Liam Payne & Maya Henry Split Less Than a Year After Engagement

Liam Payne is getting candid about hitting "rock bottom" while in One Direction.

The singer, 27, opened up on The Diary of a CEO podcast on Sunday, June 6, about experiencing suicidal ideation and alcohol issues during his time in the British boy band, which took a hiatus in 2015.

Liam shared, "I was worried how far my rock bottom was going to be. Where's rock bottom for me? And you would never have seen it. I'm very good at hiding it. No one would ever have seen it."

Host Stephen Bartlett asked if his mental health challenges included suicidal ideation, and Liam said, "Yeah. There is some stuff that I have definitely never, never spoken about. It was really, really, really severe. And it was a problem. And it was only until I saw myself after that, I was like 'Right, I need to fix myself.'"

He recalled seeing unflattering pictures of himself on a boat, saying, "I was all bloated out... I call it my pills-and-booze face. My face was just like 10 times more than it is now. I just didn't like myself very much and then I made a change."

Revisiting One Direction's Most OMG Moments

Liam, now father to 4-year-old Bear, described how his lifestyle and work schedule while performing in One Direction contributed to him becoming a self-described alcoholic.

He was just 16 when he joined One Direction on The X Factor along with Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan. And Liam said the teens usually couldn't leave their hotel rooms at night, which led to him drinking alone in his room. 

"The problem was... the best way to secure us, because of how big it got, was to lock us in a room. And, of course, what is in the room? A minibar," he explained. "At a certain point, I just thought, 'Well, I'm going to have a party for one,' and that just seemed to carry on throughout many years of my life."

He recalled, "It was wild, but it was the only way you could get the frustration out in the day."

The "Naughty List" vocalist speculated that the pressures of fame affected his development, as he didn't get a normal teenage experience. 

"As a teen, the one thing you need is freedom to make choices and freedom to do stuff," Liam reflected. "Although we could do anything we wanted, it seemed from the outside, that we were always locked in a room at night. And then it would be car, hotel room, stage, sing, locked. So, it was like they pulled the dust cloth off, let us out for a minute to go 'Woohoo' then it's like 'Get back underneath here!'"

Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus

He also admitted that his drinking struggles have continued during the coronavirus pandemic, explaining that the downtime has been "the worst thing in the world for me." 

For Liam, having a lot of time at home made him turn to alcohol. "It was just getting earlier and earlier. Easier and easier to go to," he said. "What I've found more than anything with the alcohol and stuff is boundaries. There were no boundaries. So, if you're on Zoom you quite easily hide that you might be a little bit tipsy at the point you shouldn't be." 

As a result, he noticed that he "put on so much weight" during the global lockdown, and even formulated an elaborate excuse. "I was eating badly and describing it as a bulking period, [saying], 'I'm doing it for a movie role! It's all good!' That's the best excuse if anyone asks if you've put on weight, say, 'It's for a role. It's coming out 2022,'" he said. 

Now a month sober, Liam revealed how his former One Direction bandmates have been a source of support for him in his recent journey. 

"I had a lovely phone call from Harry the other day," he went on. "He was checking in on me. It's almost as if some people have got a sixth sense about when you're going through something and want to check in."

He added, "He's very much like that. He's a lovely, lovely boy. I love him to pieces." 

Liam still feels that he had "the best time ever" in 1D, but pointed out that some parts were "toxic."

On the podcast, Liam announced his split from his fiancée of 10 months, Maya Henry.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.