Zayn Malik confides in his book Zayn that he was seriously ill before leaving One Direction. From his quote, it is apparent that he is still struggling to frame an explanation for his eating disorder and all his anxiety surrounding big venues. It can be difficult to talk about these kinds of issues.
Zayn Malik is opening up. The problem is that disorders like these are not based on logic, they are instinctive. They can also have physical as well as emotional elements. Sometimes they are environmental as well, relating to physical surroundings and what is happening at the time. Making sense of them is hard, even for those experiencing them.
One Direction was a huge deal for all the boys. They made millions of dollars just for singing. People who have dreamed of stardom, and most people have daydreamed of being in a successful band, logically think Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and the rest should have been constantly ecstatic for all five years. It looks like the guys are having so much fun on stage.
It is hard for Zayn Malik to explain what it feels like to be on the road with One Direction because there are so many preconceived ideas out there about being in a band. Sure there are fun moments, but it is also hard work, a lot of pressure, and no time that could be called being off the clock. Being on tour is like constantly being at work, and being on a bus many hours a day for months can cause motion sickness, dizziness and nausea, which can become chronic.
Zayn Malik tries to explain what happened to him. Those who have experienced it understand how the excitement of performing can turn to inner terror. An uneasy stomach from riding on a tour bus, coupled with unending butterflies can lead to an utter loss of appetite. Zayn told The Sun how only in hindsight can he began to phantom that he developed an eating disorder in late 2014.
“When I look back at images of myself from around November 2014, before the final tour, I can see how ill I was. Something I’ve never talked about in public before, but which I have come to terms with since leaving the band, is that I was suffering from an eating disorder.”
One Direction tours were hard on Zayn Malik and probably the rest of 1D to a greater or lesser extent. It was recently revealed that Niall Horan suffers from severe acid reflux disease, and that too can be caused by habitual stress and exhaustion. The Inquisitr has an article that discusses Niall’s acid reflux and it’s potential relation to long-term stress in depth. Louis Tomlinson hardly leaves his home and isn’t singing, while no one knows why, one could speculate that it may have to do with avoiding stress.
Harry Styles says he loved the crowds, and he may have adapted to it. Yet, Zayn Malik reacted differently, and there is no shame in that at all. Looking at their tour schedule as a whole for five years, it is hard to imagine that it wasn’t stressful for all of them, at least to some degree.
One Direction was a boy band, and no one expected their popularity to last more than a couple of years. That is the normal cycle, so One Direction toured hard. The “make money while one can,” philosophy dictated the boys’ tour as much as possible. They appear to have overbooked One Direction and at least sometimes, the boys probably exhausted themselves. Everyone is different and some people seem to be predisposed to accept various odd living conditions, but life on the road is hard for most.
Zayn Malik is not the only musician to struggle or even collapse on the road. Malik’s body might not have been able to adjust to the frenzied schedule, constant riding and no time to himself. Crowds make Zayn nervous and he is hardly alone in that. Zayn says that he wasn’t ever thinking he was overweight as with Anorexia Nervosa.
“It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that, I’d just go for days – sometimes two or three days straight – without eating anything at all. It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognize it for what it was.”
One Direction’s Zayn Malik was not the first professional musician to become ill because they couldn’t or would not eat. It’s a lot more common than one might think. It’s hard to find the time. Nerves are often an issue as is motion sickness and long term stress. It can be related to overbooking as was the case in Joe Perry’s collapse this summer.
Could Zayn Malik’s eating disorder have been caused, or at least made worse, by overbooked One Direction tours and the physical and mental stresses of the road? Do other recording artists have similar problems when overbooked? Yes, but Zayn’s problems apparently continued between tours.
One Direction had a tight schedule, to say the least. Alice Cooper took Hollywood Vampires on a similar schedule simply because Alice always tours that way. Cooper always has, and it doesn’t bother him, but not everyone can keep that pace.
Alice Cooper explained to The Rolling Stone what happened when Joe Perry, a seasoned musician, who is also part of Aerosmith, collapsed onstage at a Hollywood Vampires concert. Joe Perry told Alice he hadn’t eaten in over two days, the night before he collapsed.
“I said, ‘Man, you’ve got to know when to sleep. You’ve got to know when to eat on a tour.’ I think it just finally got to him. It was not a heart attack; it was pure exhaustion.”
One Direction’s Zayn Malik, Joe Perry, and many other artists have had difficulties eating and sleeping on the road, and even in the studio when the pressure was on. One Direction was always either touring or recording. They had virtually no personal time. Not getting hungry when one normally would isn’t that uncommon for busy, stressed out people, but it can be dangerous. Many stars have collapsed.
Zayn Malik has his own theory about why he couldn’t or would not eat on tour. He explained in Zayn that it was about having control over at least some aspect of his life.
“I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”
One Direction fans probably find it hard to imagine. Anyone would find it hard to imagine that being a famous millionaire pop star has a downside, but it actually does. Exhaustion is a very common problem and so is finding some way to eat, sleep and stay hydrated adequately on tour. It is apparently hard to find any spare moment to do anything when on tour.
If Zayn Malik was in this emaciated condition in November before One Direction’s final tour, it is no wonder he decided that he wanted to go home by March. He was likely unable to continue, and it’s even possible that quitting saved his life. It can be difficult for strong people to admit something like an eating disorder or anxiety is overwhelming them. Zayn has only recently learned to open up about his difficulties. Back then, Malik was keeping it all inside.
Now, Zayn Malik admits in his book Zayn that he was, in fact, sick.
“I had lost so much weight I had become ill. The workload and the pace of life on the road put together with the pressures and strains of everything going on within the band had badly affected my eating habits.”
One Direction was overbooked, or at least that is the word Steven Tyler used to describe the Hollywood Vampires tour that led to Joe Perry’s collapse. The tour date schedule for Hollywood Vampires looked very similar to the way One Direction used to book.
One Direction’s Zayn Malik, like Joe Perry, was suffering from an inadequate intake of food on the road. The road itself can be demanding and so can concerts. Shows can take a lot of energy and stars get depleted quickly on stage.
Steven Tyler told Rolling Stone he had to avoid that kind of overbooked schedule to maintain his own health and career. Aerosmith doesn’t overbook because Tyler refuses to do more than two shows consecutively. Compare that with One Direction doing 20 shows in a month.
“It’s starting to scare me a little bit. I know my brother. [Joe Perry] … He’s always asking me to do three, four [Aerosmith] shows in a row, and I can’t. I’ll blow my voice out. I know how to maintain my career, my health and Joe’s passionate. I don’t think he knows how to. I think he’s out there and someone’s overlooking him.”
RELATED REPORTS FROM THE INQUISITR
Was One Direction being pushed too hard? Was it too much for them, or at least for some of them?
Zayn Malik now suffers from severe anxiety, and he did get really thin during his solo tour as well. Niall Horan has acid reflux so badly it could require surgery to prevent it from damaging his vocal chords, according to the Irish Mirror. Both situations are serious.
Did Zayn Malik simply have to leave One Direction because he had an eating disorder?
[Featured Image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]