Paul Gascoigne’s sister has credited him for saving her life after her son Jay passed away aged 22 from an accidental self-medicated drug overdose in April 2016.
In a new interview, Anna, 54, revealed the football legend, 53, vows to win Italy’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in honour of his late nephew and will donate the show’s £50,000 prize money to his mental health charity.
The charity worker said: ‘I was calm and methodical – I wrote my will and put in a letter what I wanted for my funeral. Paul has spoken of his own battles and I was suicidal after Jay died. Paul and our mum pulled me back from the brink.’
‘He pulled me back from the brink’: Paul Gascoigne’s sister has credited him (pictured on Italy’s I’m A Celeb this week) for saving her life after her son Jay passed away
Gazza’s older sibling recalled how she wanted to ‘look after’ Jay and insisted on ensuring her 25-year-old daughter ‘would be fine’.
However, Anna said she was ‘stopped’ from taking her life after the ex-sports manager pointed out that Harley ‘wouldn’t be far behind her’, following the loss of her brother, as well as her grandfather John – who died from cancer two years later.
The mental health campaigner told The Sun on Sunday: ‘When Jay died, my life had become like a nuclear winter. The loss you feel when a child dies needlessly cannot be put into words. [Then] losing dad, after everything else, was the cruellest blow.’
Anna also shared how Paul called her in tears as he discussed his hopes of becoming the King of The Jungle for the Jay Gascoigne Foundation.
‘I’m so proud’: In a new interview, Anna, 54, revealed the football legend, 53, vows to win Italy’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in honour of his late nephew (pictured together)
WHAT IS OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER?
Obsessive compulsive disorder, usually known as OCD, is a common mental health condition which makes people obsess over thoughts and develop behaviour they struggle to control.
It can affect anyone at any age but normally develops during young adulthood.
It can cause people to have repetitive unwanted or unpleasant thoughts.
People may also develop compulsive behaviour – a physical action or something mental – which they do over and over to try to relieve the obsessive thoughts.
The condition can be controlled and treatment usually involves psychological therapy or medication.
It is not known why OCD occurs but risk factors include a family history of the condition, certain differences in brain chemicals, or big life events like childbirth or bereavement.
People who are naturally tidy, methodical or anxious are also more likely to develop it.
Heartbreaking: Musician Jay died aged 22 from an accidental self-medicated drug overdose in April 2016 (Paul pictured centre at his funeral)
Jay, a talented musician, was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia and depression from the age of 12 and became the youngest person in the UK to be put on Prozac – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
She added: ‘He was the kindest, gentlest boy… he just wanted peace. He was afraid to blink in case it caused me or Harley to die. Sometimes he’d be afraid to leave his room and couldn’t drink water as voices told him something terrible would happen.’
The grieving mother admits that while she’s ‘battle-scarred’, she is ‘stronger’ than she was before for the sake of Harley.
Anna is campaigning for addiction to be put back into the Mental Health Act and has been in touch with fellow parents who have suffered similar tragedies.
Support: Anna was ‘stopped’ from taking her life after Gazza pointed out that her daughter Harley ‘wouldn’t be far behind her’ (pictured with her then-spouse, Paul and parents in 1992)
She is on a mission to help fund a centre for vulnerable young people to receive counselling, after her son was left ‘begging for help’.
In a statement at his inquest, Anna previously revealed how Jay was ‘bullied at school because of his uncle’s celebrity status’.
She said: ‘It is really difficult to sort and pinpoint when I thought Jay had mental health issues until he was admitted into hospital. He was around 12 years old. He had anorexia, and then the constant crying, depression and the OCD.
‘While he was in hospital when he was first allowed out of bed to go to the toilet on his own he would take two steps then one step back.
Tragic: Jay was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia and depression from the age of 12
‘We thought it was odd but did not identify it as OCD. He got a psychiatrist as the depression was more obvious than the OCD.
‘He was constantly tidying, dismantling things and putting them in order. Everything in his bedroom that he could dismantle he would.
‘He would shout at me to come up with a tape measure to measure how far his dressing table was from the wall.
‘He used to break down and cry and curl up in a ball and did not want to do it but could not stop doing it. It caused him massive distress.’
Gazza, who spent three years at Rome’s club Lazio and battled alcoholism in the past, made a dramatic debut on the reality show this month as he arrived via a helicopter and had to jump into the ocean from a height and swim to the island.
The attacking midfielder was joined for the first day by his L’Isola dei Famosi, the Island of the Famous, co-stars including actors Gilles Rocca, Simone Paciello, Vera Gemma, Akshay Kumar, Roberto Ciufoli, Angela Melillo and Francesca Lodo.
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is a serious mental illness where a person restricts their food intake, which often causes them to be severely underweight.
Many also exercise excessively.
Some sufferers may experience periods of bingeing, followed by purging.
Sufferers often have a distorted view of themselves and think they are larger than they really are.
Untreated, patients can suffer loss of muscle and bone strength, as well as depression, low libido and menstruation ceasing in women.
In severe cases, patients can experience heart problems and organ damage.
Behavioural signs of anorexia include people saying they have already eaten or will do later, as well as counting calories, missing meals, hiding food and eating slowly.
As well as weight loss, sufferers may experience insomnia, constipation, bloating, feeling cold, hair loss, and swelling of the hands, face and feet.
Treatment focuses on therapy and self-help groups to encourage healthy eating and coping mechanisms.
Source: Beat Eating Disorders
Also pictured were DJ Daniela Martani, business owner Ferdinando Guglielmotti, model Drusilla Gucci and presenter Elisa Isoardi.
Other stars involved in the series are actor Brando Giorgi, actress Valentina Persia and presenter Beppe Braida.
The sportsman, who passed a series of mental and physical tests for the show, recently claimed he was banned from joining the cast of the original I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Here! after failing a psychological test back in 2009.
If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.
He’s here! Gazza, who spent three years at Rome’s club Lazio and battled alcoholism in the past, made a dramatic debut on the reality show this month