By her own admission, Tulisa Contostavlos has had the most turbulent year of her life. Last June the singer and former X Factor judge found herself the subject of a drugs sting by The Sun’s ‘Fake Sheikh’, Mazher Mahmood, which led to her being front page news and later arrested for ‘being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs. She was then charged.
And in this week’s Grazia, Tulisa, who is about to release her first single since the sting, Living Without You, tells Lottie Lumsden about how things got so bad that she contemplated suicide, before going on to clear her name, and finally finding the confidence to relaunch her career. ‘It has been the worst year of my life… so being back is the best feeling ever,’ says Tulisa. ‘People forgot throughout that year who I was and what I did. They thought I was just this public abuse figure. I’m a musician, I always was a musician, and now I’ve got a song on the radio, so I’m definitely a musician.’ She adds, ‘There is nothing right now that can take me off my high. You either fall or you fight – and I chose to fight. I’m ready for anything now.’
Tulisa admits that following her arrest she started suffering from panic attacks. ‘I had little breakdowns and depression that would last for three days. I also started suffering from panic attacks. I used to get them when I was really young but they came back. I’d be out having a drink and then I wouldn’t be able to breathe, would freak out and I’d feel like my heart was going to stop.’
Six months after her arrest, Tulisa was formally charged by police, and she tried to commit suicide. ‘I didn’t think I could hack being torn apart in court,’ she explains. ‘That night was horrific. I don’t know where my head was. I’d already gone through six months of it and I was told I’d have to wait another six months for the trial where I could be sent to prison for eight months.
‘It just hit me that night and I put myself in a stupid headspace and luckily Gareth found me… I’d taken a load of pills and Gareth rang the ambulance. It was, thank God, a failed attempt.’
This was a turning point for Tulisa. ‘The next day I woke up and said to Gareth, “Book me a studio session now.”’ she says. ‘You have to break yourself down to rebuild yourself stronger.’
Thankfully in July it emerged that Mahmood might have lied in a pre-trial statement and might have been ‘manipulating evidence’. The case was thrown out of court. And ever since Tulisa has been getting her life back on track, starting with an appearance on X Factor with Louis Walsh at the Judges’ Houses stage. Her appearance was a resounding success but her supposed ‘new face’ prompted speculation she might have had plastic surgery.
‘I looked really gaunt from the stress [of the trial]. I wanted to perk myself up a bit and I’d always wanted my lips done,’ she says. ‘But with the cheeks I didn’t know that I suffered from water retention and the first thing that fillers do is draw water to the area, so it started swelling up. The worst thing is that it would happen in the morning, so I would wake up like a blow fish when I was going to court. I’ve been having collagen waves to take them down. I haven’t had surgery though. If I had, I’d just say. What’s the point in lying?’
Read the rest of Tulisa’s interview in this week’s magazine – on sale Tuesday 18 November.