Student Pride 2021: RPDR UK's Lawrence Chaney on mental health and having CBT

Exclusive: LC was joined on today's mental health discussion panel by Munroe Bergdorf, Dan Howells, Natasha Devon and Attitude editor Cliff Joannou


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Provided (Aaron Hargreaves)

Lawrence Chaney has opened up about their journey with their mental health at National Student Pride 2021.

Speaking today as part of a panel discussion on mental health hosted by Attitude editor Cliff Joannou, the Drag Race UK winner discussed undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

According to the NHS, CBT - a talking therapy - is 'based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.'

"My therapist was like: 'Because you're good'"

"People actively tried in school to bully me," Lawrence, 24, told the panel. "I never understood why that was the case. So, when I had CBT, what I found was I'd say 'why are these people doing this to me? Why, for the school play, do they want me to sew the costumes, but they all hate me?'

"My therapist was like: 'Because you're good. And even though they hate you, you're still good.'" 

The star was joined for today's conversation by YouTuber and author Dan Howells, model and activist Munroe Bergdorf and mental health campaigner Natasha Devon.

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"Am I just this loser again who sits in the house and does nothing?"

Elsewhere in the discussion, Lawrence described the difficulty of lockdown, which famously thwarted filming of Drag Race UK SE2.

"It was really hard," said the star. "I thought my dreams had come true [getting onto RPDR UK]. That I'd gone off to the Disney castle where everything was amazing. 

"All of a sudden you go from being validated by people who looked up to you and connecting with new people... Because that's what I always take from my job as a drag queen, I love connecting to new people each night. When I was doing shows in bars in Glasgow with 20 people there, there would be 18 people I'd never met before."

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Lawrence continued: "What shocked me was the culture shock of me going back to the four walls of my room with all these fabulous costumes you've invested in. You're not wearing them. And all you can do is sit.

"What I found really destructive was looking at what other people are doing on social media. Performances in streets and stuff. I was like 'Is this how I do it?' There was almost an embarrassment of 'what am I doing then? Am I just this loser again who sits in the house and does nothing?'"

Lawrence of course went on to win SE2 last month. They subsequently appeared on the cover of the Attitude Tea Time digital special, in association with TAIMI, along with fellow finalists Tayce and Bimini.

Speaking in our cover interview about social media and mental health, and addressing their decision to briefly quit Twitter after abuse from trolls, Lawrence said: "For me, I just needed to step away... This isn’t my job. My job isn’t on Twitter. My job is being me and making you all laugh. This [social media] is just an avenue you can go down. But who said you can’t take a day off? You have to have a day off just to keep your mental health in check, especially right now when everyone’s mental health is in the toilet.

"We need to do whatever we can to make sure we’re not struggling and make sure we can get through it to see tomorrow."

If you or someone you know is struggling with your mental health, visit mentalhealth.org.uk or switchboard.lgbt.

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