Joe Wicks has revealed that his mother Raquela left him in the care of his heroin addict father Gary when he was just 12 months old in order to get help for her OCD.
Joe lauded his mother for being ‘brave’ enough to get the help she needed in the form of five months of therapy, while his older brother tried to shelter him from the daily horrors of living with their addict father.
The fitness guru and chef, 36, will lift the lid on his troubled upbringing in his upcoming documentary Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood and has given an insight into the topics that he will cover.
Tough: Joe Wicks has revealed that his mother Raquela left him in the care of his heroin addict father Gary when he was just 12 months old in order to get help for her OCD (Joe and father pictured)
Speaking at a screening of the film, Joe told The Mirror how his mother left when he was 12 and his younger brother George was just one, after they got into screaming matches over how clean their house was and she lived on just cigarettes, chocolate and cans of coke for days.
‘For her to leave a one-year-old with a heroin addict, how hard that must have been… She knew if she didn’t go, her whole world was going to fall apart. She did something really brave.’
He added that his misunderstanding of her illness led to many arguments, with Joe explaining: ‘We had such a confrontational relationship.
Family: Joe lauded his mother for being ‘brave’ enough to get the help she needed in the form of five months of therapy – while also detailing how he didn’t understand her illness as a teenager (pictured with mother and brother Nikki)
‘I couldn’t walk through the door without taking my shoes off or have friends round. If I’d known I would have been nicer to her and loved her more.’
In the documentary Joe will explore how his mother’s eating disorder and severe obsessive compulsive disorder and his father’s drug addiction affected him as a child, while examining the UK’s parental mental health.
Joe added in comments made at Wednesday’s screening that ‘there’s definitely things that went on that I’m just, I’m not choosing to remember.’
Getting emotional he explained: ‘The worst thing as a kid is that you feel like it’s your fault, you feel like you’re to blame, or that you’re not worth enough, or your parents don’t love you enough. Those feelings are hardcore man, you can’t carry them as a kid.’
His brother and Body Coach business partner Nikki, 38, protected Joe from some of the worst times at home, as Joe said how his sibling ‘saw police breaking down the door, he saw the drugs being stashed in toilets.’
Joe explained how since opening up about his own mental health, he is often contacted by lots of fans who find themselves in distressing situations and he tries his best to help them all.
Raw: The fitness guru and chef, 36, will lift the lid on his troubled upbringing in his upcoming documentary Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood and has given an insight into the topics that he will cover
However he added that it has become an addiction and that even if he spends eight hours a day replying to people’s messages, he still can’t help everyone.
Joe hopes that opening up about his turbulent childhood due to his parents’ mental health issues will inspire others to have further conversations around the subject.
The show was produced by documentary-maker Louis Theroux, who previously claimed Joe’s exercise programme was one of the things that helped him cope during lockdown.
The Body Coach recently told the Radio Times of his journey: ‘After PE with Joe ended, I realised I hadn’t just helped people’s physical health, but their mental health, too. I wanted to keep that conversation going.
‘As a young kid, I didn’t realise my parents had mental health issues. I just thought my dad was a drug addict and my mum loved cleaning.
‘But I was aware I had this ability to share my story, and that hopefully it would inspire people.’
Tragic: Speaking at a screening of the film, Joe told The Mirror : ‘For her to leave a one-year-old with a heroin addict, how hard that must have been’ (pictured with mother)
The fitness and nutrition specialist revealed that as a child he used exercise to de-stress and avoid the atmosphere at home.
He admitted: ‘If I hadn’t exercised, I would have been a nightmare.
‘No one would have been able to control me. PE was the one subject I looked forward to because it helped me focus.’
Joe admitted he has received little therapy himself, except a few family counselling sessions as a child, and that the documentary is the deepest he has gone into his past.
Opening up: The fitness and nutrition specialist recently revealed that as a child he used exercise to de-stress and avoid the atmosphere at home (Joe pictured with brother George and dad Gary)
Learning from his experience of being kept in the dark, Joe said he hopes that children can be kept more informed about their parents’ mental health issues.
He said: ‘Millions of parents are experiencing mental health issues, particularly after lockdown.
‘They’re bottling it up and trying to be brave and happy, but inside they’re probably crumbling. When the parents pull away, the children become withdrawn.’
As part of the documentary, he visits the charity Our Time, which supports young people with parents suffering from mental illnesses, many of whom have become carers at a young age.
Joe noted that if you use the right language, children can ‘process things’ and understand that their parent is having a tough day but it is ‘nothing to do with them’.
He added: ‘That’s powerful. But it’s also hard, because of the stigma. You’re scared that your children might get taken away from you, or that people might make fun of them.
‘So it’s hard to say ‘Just talk about it’, because normally you keep it from your friends, your colleagues, your boss.’
The documentary will also explore how exercise, diet and sleep can help mental health.
Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood will air on BBC One on May 16 at 9pm.
Candid: Joe admitted he has received little therapy himself, except a few family counselling sessions as a child, and that the documentary is the deepest he has gone into his past