Joey Essex finally gets rid of TOWIE persona while reliving mum’s death trauma

At the age of just 10, Joey Essex’s whole life was “torn to pieces” by the death of his mum.

The former The Only Way Is Essex star has spent ten years in the reality TV spotlight but has found fame and money has been unable to heal the grief he has buried deep inside for 20 years.

The public know Joey, 30, as a funny character who is always laughing and joking, but while bravely opening up in therapy he realises he’s created the persona so he doesn’t have to stop being a “little boy” and give his mother up.

Joey has clear memories of the fateful day he was told “mum’s gone” by his dad, Don – and bursts into tears while reliving the devastating moment in BBC documentary, Joey Essex: Grief and Me.

“My anxiety was through the roof, depression, going hospital all the time because I thought I had something wrong with me. I don’t know why. Anger I suppose. You ask yourself ‘why, why, why?’.”

Joey’s mother Tina took her own life in 2001 after battling depression, which she hid from her children, leaving Joey with lots of questions that will never be answered.

Joey adds that the loss of his mum has prevented him from settling down and starting his own family.

“I’ve had loads of relationships but I always end up pushing them away,” he candidly tells the cameras.

“Imagine if I was with someone and I had kids with them and I really did love that person and then she left me. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m already thinking we’re gonna break up before we’re together. I’m pushing it away.”

After an unsure start and trust issues threaten to derail the process, Joey realises that to be able to move on with his life he has to look back at his past.

He is finally able to watch home videos of his mum for the very first time with Frankie, Chloe and nan Linda.

“I really enjoyed it. It’s the first time I’ve seen a video or picture and relived memories and felt happy,” he says.

“I know I will never get over the trauma and that’s the way it is. But I’m starting to open up about it, I can talk about it, look at pictures. I can finally do that which is huge.

“I’m proud that I faced it and I know I can live with it now and just keep moving. I can only take positives out of everything I have gone through. I’ve finally accomplished the biggest thing in my life.”

* If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or visit their site to find your local branch

* Joey Essex: Grief and Me airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm

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