AFTER winning the Great British Bake Off, Candice Brown would have been looking to go from strength to strength.
But since then, the glamorous 36-year-old has suffered a heartbreaking split from her husband, been diagnosed with ADHD and seen her pub business devastated by the pandemic.
So it comes as little surprise the baker, quem ganhou o 2016 série do show, diz she has just had “the hardest, most difficult, horrible year of my life”.
Writing about her emotional ordeal in new book Happy Cooking, out today, she reveals: “This book is testament to the fact that every day I just about put one foot in front of the other and I am here.
“Ironic that a book about food (my favourite thing) and mental health has nearly broken me. But in truth it has.
“This has been the toughest thing I have had to do. I have found it so hard to get things on paper.
“I am laying myself bare, talking about things I’ve not really spoken about and quite frankly I am terrified.”
Almost 16million people watched as Candice lifted the Bake Off crown back on the BBC before the show’s move to Channel 4.
But her life became incredibly harder shortly after.
She first started dating husband Liam Macauley, who has worked as a tree surgeon, no 2014 and they tied the knot during a secret ceremony in the South of France in October 2018.
But last summer it was revealed they had split up and he had moved out of their flat above her Green Man pub in Eversholt, Beds.
As lockdown restrictions hit pubs particularly hard, she was left with just £416 in her business account, all while struggling to make meals single-handedly for the pub’s food delivery service.
But it was cooking that helped get her through a tough time mentally.
No livro dela, she writes: “My mental health is something I hadn’t really spoken about until fairly recently, but it is something I’ve been battling with for quite a few years.
“I have had days where I didn’t want to get out of bed, I’ve cancelled plans, not spoken to family and friends and felt completely useless.
“But I have also accomplished things I never thought possible — and probably other people never thought possible — and that is because I found something I love.
“Cooking at home puts me in my comfort zone and cooking outside my kitchen pushes me out of my comfort zone too, which is a good thing.
“I cook and bake when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m bored, anxious or fidgety — which I now know is sometimes down to my ADHD — when that dark cloud surrounds me like a thick, heavy burden and I have no idea why. It’s my place.
“Cooking has got me through some proper s**t times, and it continues to do so.”
Since their separation, Liam, 35, has looked for love on dating app Bumble enquanto Candice has used celebrity matchmaking service Raya, which has previously counted One Direction singer Niall Horan, 27, and comedian Jack Whitehall, 32, among its users.
In the same week the couple’s split was announced, Liam was seen holidaying with businesswoman Micah Taffurelli, 29, in Mykonos.
Contudo, Micah denied the claims of being a homewrecker and insisted Liam and Candice had split up months earlier.
Liam previously said pressure had been put on their relationship shortly after he proposed, when photos emerged of Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood, 55, kissing Candice on the cheek.
Ele explicou: “I’d not long asked Candice to marry me and I had to read reports that my new fiancée was seen kissing Hollywood.
“That was just a kiss on her cheek and there was nothing else to it. But we had only been engaged a few days. It was a lot to have to deal with.”
On their break-up, ele adicionou: “There is nobody else involved. We have just sadly decided it wasn’t working.”
Although Candice has stayed tight-lipped on what tore their relationship apart, she has been open about her struggles and her reliance on making food, which she says is the only thing that makes her feel “good enough” as a person.
In a personal admission in her book, she writes: “Mental health is something that is becoming more and more frequently talked about in society; it is becoming more recognised, and less stigmatised.
“I will never claim to be an expert or give advice but what I do know is what has helped me, what has got me through some of my darkest days and what has kept me going . . . and that is food. Cooking and food.
“I’ve often spoken about cooking being my thing — the only thing I’ve ever felt comes naturally. Because of this, I cook not only because I want to, but because I need to.
“Cooking is a saviour for me. Learning from mistakes and knowing what to do to improve it next time — this process is how I learn to be a better cook and is also my kind of therapy.
“Cooking gives me confidence when I feel my least confident. It reminds me I can do something good, that I can make people smile and bring joy through something I have done myself. Cooking reminds me that I am good enough.”
Candice, who worked as a PE teacher before shooting to fame on Bake Off, says she also suffers from severe anxiety which means she finds it difficult even to keep her hands still.
She writes: “One of my first indicators of anxiety is my hands; I wring my hands, I fiddle with my rings, I tap and fidget even more than usual.
“I have to be doing something all the time — my attention span is bad at the best of times, but if I’m feeling anxious then the need to be busy is through the roof.
“Having recently been diagnosed with ADHD, a lot of this makes sense, as I just cannot sit still.
“My family and friends call me the Bumble Bee as I buzz around doing everything, but not actually doing much.
“I also get things done, just in my own time and way, often doing several other things along the way and having to be reminded to stay on task!
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“So much at the moment brings on anxiety, whether it is worry, panic, not sleeping enough, intrusive thoughts or just the pressures of day-to-day life.
“This is something I have always spoken about — the calming feel and touch of food. Using my hands to create and take me to that happy place.
“It’s funny as I find it so hard to concentrate, but give me some dough and that’s me all in.”
- Happy Cooking: Easy uplifting meals and comforting treats, by Candice Brown (£16.55, Ebury Press) is out tomorrow.