LAUREN Goodger has apologised for breaching lockdown twice as she opens up about having “panic attacks and anxiety” over being apart from her loved ones.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun Online for the first time about her rule breaks, the 33-year-old has admitted “making mistakes” as she explains her side of the story.
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The apology comes after former Towie star Lauren came under fire for going to a child’s birthday bash when Brits were being told not to meet up in groups of more than two people.
She also faced abuse for throwing a party for her pals at home – but Lauren insists she was confused about the rules.
Defending her decision to celebrate her friend’s son turning three, Lauren explained they kept their distance and it was a “a very small group held in a garden”.
“It wasn’t a massive rave where we were all getting drunk,” said Lauren.
“It was a little kids’ birthday party in the garden, we were only inside for the cake, and I was only there very briefly.
“I didn’t organise the party and the people there who attended assured me everyone was safe and had been isolating.
“They’re like family to me, I’ve spent Christmas at their house and I’ve been suffering with crippling anxiety being isolated and alone.
“Am I supposed to turn around and say ‘no, I’m sitting indoors and make my anxiety worse’?
“I know I’ve got a terrace, but I’m in a two floor apartment and I need space. I needed to see someone for the sake of my mental health and that’s why I made the decision to go. It might not have been the right decision but I thought it was for the best because of how I was feeling.”
But looking back, Lauren admits she was wrong to have a party with close friends during lockdown when restrictions began to ease.
She says she didn’t know that she was flouting the rules when she put up video of her and her friends hanging out at the gathering inside her Essex home on 18 May, because the rules had recently changed and it was confusing for everyone.
“I’m so sorry if I’ve upset anyone, I hold my hands up,” she said.
“I’m not making excuses, but I was so confused with the new rules.
“After Boris’ speech about the change, people were going back to work, shops were opening, drive throughs were opening, kids are going back to school on Monday – it felt like things have been much more relaxed.
“I genuinely didn’t think it was wrong. After I posted about it I obviously got all the s*** that i got and I was like ‘f*** what’s going on?’
“I still don’t fully understand it all. I’m not the only one making mistakes, there’s hundreds of people on the beaches every day, but I’ll hold my hands up. I do apologise to anybody that I’ve upset.
“It’s been really hard for me mentally living on my own being on my own. I’ve got a terrible relationship with my own family, and I just wanted to see people for a minute and say hello.”
Lockdown has led to severe anxiety and crippling panic attacks as Lauren struggles to adjust to living on her own.
“I know we’re all going through it, but I’m on my own,” she said.
“I’m under a lot of stress because people are just looking for me to do something wrong all the time.
“It’s been awful with the panics and the anxiety. Obviously it’s terrifying not knowing what the hell is going on, it’s been a really horrible time.
“Sometimes I’m really strong, but other days I feel like I literally can’t do it and I’m breaking and need support.
“I have to have love outside of this bubble and that is why I have suffered mentally and I’ve had my panic attacks and my anxiety and fear. And that’s why I needed to see people that weekend but I am sorry to anyone I’ve offended.”
Lauren also says she lives in fear of catching the deadly virus when she goes food shopping.
She said: “I do not want to get ill and I don’t want to catch it, I’d be scared for my life!”
“I’ve not been out and about, I’m not meeting up with complete randoms. I’ve stuck to the rules during the whole of lockdown, I just, like a lot of other people, got confused when certain guidelines got relaxed.
“For all these weeks I’ve been doing what I’m meant to have been doing. I panic more about going into stores and supermarkets than I do going to a family or friend’s house.
“I’m actually so careful. I know that sounds stupid but after food shopping I wipe down everything with bleach.
“I have my hand sanitiser and when I’m shopping I wear a mask and gloves at all times.”
Putting her spare time to good use, Lauren is doing a lot of charity work in lockdown to help others in need.
Raising money for Mask Our Heroes, the 33-year-old is doing a 13k socially-distanced sponsored walk on June 27 in Maidenhead.
She’s going to be donating masks for all the local hospitals in Essex – and is hoping to continue her good work by helping the elderly nearby.
“I’ll do anything they want me to do, said Lauren.”
“I can deliver food or chat to them on Zoom calls, I just want to help.”