Lucy Spraggan has certainly not had an easy journey. After finding fame on The X Factor eight years ago, off stage, the successful singer and songwriter has been dealing with anxiety and depression.
At one point, Spraggan admits she wondered “if I’d survive” – but now is happily revealing what she describes as “a new Lucy”.
It’s a remarkable turnaround. She’s three stone lighter, super fit and impressively toned thanks to a dedicated fitness regime, and recently celebrated 10 months of sobriety.
“I was in a really bad place for quite a long time, but now I’m the person I never imagined I could be,” says Spraggan, whose sixth album, Choices, will be released in the autumn (if social distancing eases, she’ll go on a UK tour too).
“I’m running every day, I’ve signed up for a marathon next year and train six days a week,” she says proudly, chatting from her home in Chester.
“It’s not just about the fitness – although that’s such an important part of my life now – it’s also that mentally I feel well and so much stronger. I’m happy within and without, and that’s a really great new feeling for me.”
The Sheffield-born singer – who wowed X Factor audiences before quitting the show early, citing illness and bereavement – has since carved an impressive career, releasing an album every two years.
All, bar her debut album, have made the top 20 and she’s performed twice at Glastonbury.
Life away from music has been more challenging though. Although it seemed she’d found personal happiness and stability when she married Georgina Gordon in 2016 last year the couple split.
“I had a pretty s**t time last year and all sorts of things sort of came to a head,” Spraggan reflects. During their six years together, the couple short-term fostered 12 children.
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“The break-up is heartbreaking because she absolutely saved my life when we got together,” she acknowledges quietly.
“I’d been going through all those tough time
s with my mental health and she was very caring and supportive of the work I did to get better. She’s a great person and made me a much better person, and we’ve had amazing experiences together – fostering was wonderful. But I started going through a lot of changes and sadly the new me didn’t fit the relationship any more.”
Spraggan’s most significant personal change happened last July, when during an overseas tour in America, she quit drinking completely.
“I’d been on the road solidly for around six months and there was always drink around. I was in Las Vegas feeling quite fat and sad, and after a really big night out after a show, there was lots of drama and trouble,” she recalls.
“I woke up the next morning and suddenly had this overwhelming feeling: ‘I don’t want this – I’m not going to drink anymore.’ I got up and went for a run, something I’d literally never done before, and that’s how it started. It was a real turning point for me. Since then, I literally run everywhere I can.”
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SO, there’s been lots of questions about diet and exercise incoming and I’m trying my best to reply to as many as poss but it ain’t easy! ????♀️ Me and Ryan have been thinking about making a few YouTube/Instagram TV tutorial videos of workouts that we do together, perhaps with a little bit of info about what kind of food I’ve been sticking to, and some exercises you can do at home? If you would be interested, let me know, and if you have any ideas to make it more interesting let me know them too!? ???? They’d probs be about 30 mins long and you could join in with them wherever you are. What ya sayin?! @ryan_bradley_fitness
With her characteristic candour, she doesn’t shy away from the term ‘alcoholic’.
“I started drinking when I was 12 and for a long time, I’ve known I had a problem with it. I think people are really scared of saying that word because it’s heavy, but I would say I’m an alcoholic in a very modern sense, in that although I don’t wake up every morning and want a drink, when I drink, alcohol defines who I am,” she confides.
“I realised I didn’t even like the person I was when I drank, but despite that, I kept on drinking. But last year I knew I had choices to make about my life, and I needed to be mentally clear and sober to make them,” she continues.
“The first six weeks was very hard because all the feelings and emotions that alcohol blocks out came to the surface, and that’s pretty intense. Now, I feel I’m living my best life and can be the best version of myself without alcohol.”
She describes her transformation as “like a miracle. All my life, from around the age of two, I’ve been a massive trouble-magnet. I’ve literally crashed through so many experiences and packed them into such a short time.
“I was in the building trade as a plumber’s apprentice in my teens, then I did the fame and show business thing with X Factor, an experience I barely survived because it was so tough and stressful. Then I married and it was all about family stuff. I feel as though I’ve had so many lives, not just one, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt steady and in control.”
Her fitness regime – running up to 15km daily as well as weight training – has seen her drop from a size 16 to around a size eight but she says it’s not all about that, as exercise is crucial to her mental wellbeing.
“Depression is like an outfit you have in your wardrobe – you’re not always wearing it but you know it’s still hanging there on the rail,” Spraggan says thoughtfully.
“But I recognise the triggers now and my new lifestyle makes it harder for it to intrude. I get such joy from pushing my body to its limits, in a way I never dreamt was possible. That’s hugely beneficial for me mentally.
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If ya can’t be a bit deep on Sunday morning then when can ya be?! I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years (fuck me, I’ve learnt a lot over the last few months!) and in those last few months there’s been a lot of time for thought for most of us! I played my first show when I was 12 years old, it was at Crich Tram Festival (hilarious) and I absolutely knew then that music was going to be my one steady, beaming, lighthouse in (what I didn’t know then was going to be) a pretty stormy sea. I’ve loved it since I can remember and it’s seen me through some incredibly dark times, some of those times that I’ve not been open about like I have been others. The thing is about both my career and my personal life is that I have worked so, so hard to improve both over the years. I have persevered through constant ‘no’ and ‘not this time’ and persevered, personally, through the times when I thought taking my own life was the only option. I’ve been quite open about that. The thing with is with life is that you can spend the whole time thinking you deserve the whole world, that owed all of the things you want, you can fall into the trap of thinking that someone or something else will provide that, but the only real, sure fire way to get what you want is to fucking work. Work the hardest you’ve ever worked at everything you do. It took me a long time to realise that ‘success’ is doing just that. It’s not about winning or being a billionaire, or being stratospherically known. It’s about knowing YOU have done everything in your power to improve and strive. That ‘no’ is most certainly not good enough. That if everything fell down YOU could get yourself out of there. I still have a long way to go in the way of personal growth, but I can tell you first hand, I’m working hard. Everything I have I worked for; I don’t want to pick the fruit from other’s trees. And for that I can give myself respect. I wouldn’t change that for the world. I also believe fucking whole heartedly that those out there who are also doing their very, very best, getting back up every time, and not taking ‘no’ are gonna succeed. I absolutely love to see it and am behind you all the way. That is all ????
“While I used to drink to alleviate my anxiety – which was like pouring liquid depression onto the problem – now I’m able to calmly pinpoint what’s causing it. Then I run, lift weights, or do a skipping session which boosts my mood and eases away negative, repetitive feelings.”
Spraggan, who began performing at music festivals aged 12, has poured her feelings and emotions about the last transformative year into her new album, Choices. Tracks include Sober, Run and Roots, focusing on her marriage break-up.
“My passion for music, which has always driven me, has been reignited. I’m really proud of this album because I feel there’s an emotional maturity to it, a real depth and honesty,” she says.
“I never wanted to get categorised as ‘Lucy from The X Factor’, that’s a sort of pop pigeonhole, and although it was hard sticking to my guns, I think I’ve proved I’m way more than that.”
She declares herself currently single and content. “I’m just concerned about myself and want to focus on my own wellbeing. In the past, I was always very dependent on someone else to make me happy. Now I’m learning about who I want to be and that’s my focus, before I even look for someone else to be in my life.
“Who knows where I’ll end up, but I’m so looking forward to the future and being able to enjoy and take on all the challenges.”
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I can’t believe it: it’s time to announce my 6th album… It’s called ‘Choices’! ???? And what comes with an album?? A TOUR! ???? For special pre-sale tickets simply pre-order ‘Choices’ from my Official Store! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support in these times. This is the longest I haven’t played a show in a DECADE and I miss you all so much, I’ve put my everything into this record and can’t wait for you to hear it. It’s been a mad year, a lot to write about. Obviously with the current situation the country is in nobody is entirely sure where we will be in November. What I can tell you is that YOUR safety is my absolutely priority and we shall be making sure there is no risk to my favourite people in the bloody world. Keeping all the fingers crossed everything can go ahead and I shall be keeping you all very updated. If it gets further down the line and we are not able to make the shows work (or plan B, C, D etc) all tickets will be fully refundable or transferable. For now though, pre-order ‘Choices’ and GET EXCITED! ???????? LINK IN BIO ????
Lucy Spraggan’s new album Choices is due for release on October 16 with plans for a UK tour. For further information, see lucyspraggan.com.