'I didn't leave the house for four years': Claire Richards reveals her depression after quitting Steps
11:19 GMT, 23 June 2012
Steps singer Claire Richards admits she suffered from a crippling depression for four years after quitting the group.
The blonde star, 34, revealed being in the five-piece 'destroyed what little confidence I had', leaving her struggling to find her identity once they disbanded.
Although Claire left the Tragedy stars because she was unhappy, she was surprised to find her mood didn't improve once she was a free agent.
Happier now: Steps singer Claire Richards has conquered the depression she suffered after Steps split
Writing in her autobiography All Of Me, which has been serialised in The Sun, she said: 'When I left the band it was because I couldn’t cope any more. But then I had nothing to fill the space Steps had left.
couldn’t cope. For four years I barely went out. I don’t think I had a
breakdown but I was so embarrassed about people seeing me – worried what
they would stay.'
As she got used to her new life out of the spotlight, she admitted her depression grew and she found it difficult to leave her house.
She said: 'I was depressed. I’d stay in bed until lunchtime, then lie on the sofa watching TV.
Tense times: Claire with her Steps bandmates Lee Latchford-Evans, Ian 'H' Watkins, Faye Tozer and Lisa Scott-Lee in their heyday
'I went into reverse dieting. I’d buy a pack of cakes for four and eat the lot. It was like I was grieving.'
Claire sang many of the lead vocals in Steps during her five years with the pop group before they split on Boxing Day 2001.
She went on to form a duo with Steps bandmate Ian 'H' Watkins, but they disbanded after 2003 after two years together.
Claires autobiography, All Of Me, is published by Sidgwick & Jackson on July 5
After years of speculation, the group sorted out their differences and admitted lack of communication had caused their issues.
When they reunited last year, her bandmate Faye Tozer said: 'We’ve been discussing this and we think it was a lot of lack of communication – a lot of things building up and we didn't talk about them at the time.
'And you kind of hid and went away and did your own thing and dealt with it like that.
'We didn’t have a huge amount of support around us making sure we were OK, and we were just overworked and overtired.'
She also had a difficult first marriage to deal with.
Claire married her first husband, Steps dancer Mark Webb in 2003, but they split in 2005.
However, she found happiness in May 2007, when she gave birth to her first child Charlie and married his father, former publicity manager Reece Hill in 2008. Their daughter Daisy followed a year later.
Claire’s autobiography, All Of Me, is published by Sidgwick & Jackson on July 5.
Back together: A reunited Steps last October