Lucy Spraggan has said she would tell her younger self not to go on The X Factor if she had the chance, calling the experience “toxic”.
The singer-songwriter, 27, appeared on the reality series in 2012, and was one of the favourites to win before she was forced to pull out of live shows due to illness.
Spraggan, who was 19 when she took part in the show, said there were a number of things about being on the programme that affected her, and that it took her five years to “claw” her personality back.
She told the Press Association: “I’d probably tell myself you’re a bit too young to go on The X Factor – I don’t think anyone can emotionally prepare for it.
“That level of overnight success is a phenomenon that very few people get to witness, so it’s very hard to deal with.”
Reflecting on her experience and whether she would do it again, she said: “It’s hard, really, because I’m trying to live in a world where I don’t look back and regret things, because it’s so pointless.
“It’s about reflecting on today, living for today and what’s going to happen next.
“The advice I would give to a 19-year-old in the same situatio is, ‘you need to be kinder to yourself, look after yourself,’ and that would probably mean not going on The X Factor.”
Spraggan, who releases her fifth album Today Was A Good Day on Friday, said she does credit the show for giving her a music career, otherwise she “might have stayed working with a clipboard on the street” and she says she now “has a really great life”.
She added: “But there were definitely elements of the show that were quite toxic for me, very toxic.
“It flipped my life on its head for at least five years, and the last couple of years I’ve started to claw my personality back, but it took me a very long time.”
Spraggan said it is a “combination of everything” that caused her problems during and after taking part in the ITV programme.
“Complete fear of the unknown, having people watching you, you’re being watched all the time, and you’re being constantly assessed all the time, which is really unhealthy,” she said.
“Also the showbiz environment, which I didn’t remain in for very long – it was a conscious decision – is a really toxic atmosphere. It’s people trying to get to the top of the ladder, and I’m just trying to find where my own ladder is.”
Spraggan added that “the stigma that’s attached” to having been on The X Factor “can be really difficult to overcome” within the music industry.
“Well, I’ve been trying for seven years now, not to get rid of that label by any means, because that’s part of my career.”
Of her new album, which marks a positive turn in her life following years of mental health issues, Spraggan said: “It’s considerably happier than my last record, and that’s because it’s a reflection of where I’m at.
“Every album of mine is an observation of what’s going on around me and each album, weirdly, has been two years apart, so it reflects on the past couple of years.
“I’ve been married for three years in June, and me and my wife have been fostering and settling in, and it’s like a different step in my life.”
Today Was A Good Day by Lucy Spraggan is out Friday May 3.