Reality TV star Kerry Katona has turned her back on her wild ways and issued a plea to help friend Katie Price .
Kerry has battled back from the brink of despair and is now urging troubled Katie’s critics to back off.
In an interview, the mum of five, 38, defended of the former glamour model.
Kerry’s heart went out to Katie, 40, who was filmed slumped in a Spanish hotel room and rapping about cocaine.
Katie’s life has been in such turmoil that she has been absent as a Loose Women panellist.
She has just split from Kris Boyson, 29, her boyfriend of five months.
She has also had to deal with a fire at her £2million West Sussex mansion.
On top of that she faces bankruptcy unless she pays outstanding debts and her kids with ex-husband singer Peter Andre, Junior, 13, and Princess, 11, are currently living with him.
Kerry, who was in the I’m A Celebrity jungle in 2004 with Katie and appeared together at a charity football game, is standing by her pal.
The former Atomic Kitten singer said: “Everyone’s quick to jump on the bandwagon and notice all her faults.
“All I want to say to everyone is: ‘lay off her’. Why not pull each other up?
“No one is actually going ‘what’s the underlying problem of why she’s got to where she is at the minute?’.”
Katie Price’s raunchy holiday pictures with Kris Boyson
Kerry is no stranger to being slagged off in public, ever since her “fairytale lifestyle” with first husband, ex-Westlife star Brian McFadden, fell apart.
She said: “I was living the dream and it all went t*ts up and everything started spiralling out of control.
“Everyone was saying ‘you’re this Kerry, you’re that, look at the state of her’. No one said: ‘Can we help you?’. ‘What’s the underlying cause?’
“Let’s take a step back and look at the reasons why people end up where they are.
“I never went: ‘F**k it, I’m going to get f**king sh**-faced and treat the kids like this’. It wasn’t like that.”
At her lowest point, Kerry was married to drug dealer Mark Croft and bingeing on cocaine and contemplating suicide.
Now healthy and happy, the mum said: “I’m very proud of myself. It’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up.
“Thankfully I was strong enough to sort myself out but at one point, I never thought I’d be where I am today.
“When you have an issue your close family know about it, that’s embarrassing, when the whole world knows it adds so much more pressure. I’m sure at one point a newspaper had a front cover ready: ‘Kerry found dead’.
She said: “At my lowest I was such an embarrassment I wanted to take my own life. I thought if I took myself out of the equation everyone else would be happy.”
Kerry, who is bipolar and has attention deficit disorder, has been off medication for over a year. She has lost two stone and credits exercise with keeping her mentally strong.
She said: “If it wasn’t for my exercise I think I’d go insane. It’s the best natural drug. I’m a single parent, I’ve no cleaner or childcare. I’m doing it on my own.”
Kerry said being a size eight is a bonus as it’s more important to be fit and healthy for kids Molly, 16, Lilly-Sue, 15, Heidi, 11, Max, ten, and Dylan-Jorge, four.
And her fans have been quick to comment on her new lease of life.
She said: “An old lady came up to me at the fruit and veg in Morrisons and said: ‘So glad you’re looking better now, love’ as if I’ve been poorly with a disease. I’ve always had amazing support.”
Kerry had a tough upbringing with four sets of foster parents and attending eight schools.
She saw her mum Sue slit her wrists at just three and tried speed at 14, when Sue told her it was sherbet.
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She said: “Every time I’ve been in a relationship it was like I was trying to recreate my childhood dream of having a family.
“Then I married my mum’s drug dealer, as if that was going to solve all my problems. It just spiralled out of control from there.
“Every time I have met someone I’ve given it my all. I never wanted it to end but sometimes it’s best to walk away from a broken relationship for your and your children’s safety.
“Many people stay in damaged and toxic relationships.
“When I walked away from my third husband [rugby player George Kay] that time alone made me realise I don’t need anyone in my life. I’m more than enough for my kids.”
But after a year being single, Kerry is dating personal trainer Ryan Mahoney and taking things slowly.
She said: “I’ve been offered magazine shoots and I’ve told them where to go.”
Kerry is also keen to rejoin Natasha Hamilton, 36, and Liz McClarnon, 37, in Atomic Kitten after leaving during a rift last year.
The band’s biggest hit, Whole Again, features on new various artist compilation 60-track album Girl Power.
Kerry would love to appear on Strictly Come Dancing and win back her lucrative contract with supermarket chain Iceland, from which she was dropped in 2009 after pictures were published of her snorting cocaine.
She said: “Everyone is about second chances and turning your life around but I just feel I’m not getting that chance. I want to prove that you can work with mental health issues, you can be successful.”
She receives letters from people asking for help with their own issues and Kerry added: “I’d like to be a motivational speaker, I feel that’s my calling but I want to put a twist on it.
“Laughter is the medicine for everything. If I can joke about my 2008 slurring appearance on This Morning, then anyone can laugh at themselves.”
- Girl Power, a 60-track compilation from female artists is available on Amazon now.
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