Kem Cetinay almost dropped out of school because he was too anxious to leave the house.
The 'Love Island' star didn't sit many of his GCSE exams because of his crippling phobia, which he eventually overcame after daily sessions with "amazing" therapists.
He revealed: "When I was about 13, my mum had an operation and was told she had 24 hours to live. It triggered such anxiety for me that it got to a point where I didn't leave the house. Thank God, my mum recovered but it changed my life. I didn't know what I was suffering from. I would hide away and it got worse and worse. By the time I was 15, I had almost dropped out of school. I didn't sit many of my GCSEs, I saw a therapist every day, stayed at home for 18 months and barely went out. It felt like I was locked in a prison. I saw some amazing therapists. I met one and something clicked with her and she opened up barriers for me.
"Later, I started barbering. It was a slow progression and took me two to three years, and then the 'Love Island' opportunity came up."
The 'Dancing On Ice' star admitted his parents were concerned he wouldn't be able to handle life in the public eye, but even though he still suffers from anxiety on occasion, Kem thinks he's much stronger now.
Speaking to Heat magazine, he admitted: "My mum and dad thought there was no way I could handle [being famous].
"For me, it was a challenge. I wanted to prove it to myself. Why should I hide and let anxiety win? I still suffer now at times, but I'm building myself every day as a person and will get stronger."
And Kem credits his close friend Chris Hughes for helping him cope as they understand one another's struggles.
He said: "When we met, we both realised we suffered from the same anxiety and that's what brought us so close.
"Even now, we know when one of us is feeling anxious and how to calm the other down."