Jesy Nelson is finally speaking her truth.

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In a new interview with Cosmopolitan UK, the 29-year-old candidly discusses her decision to leave the girl group Little Mix in December 2020.

“I didn’t know that I could be this happy. I thought, when I was in the group, that it was just normal to feel that way. And because I’d felt like that for 10 years, I just thought, This is life. Since I’ve left, I feel free.”

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During the decade she spent with members Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall, Nelson shares that the first few years were the most taxing, after the British media constantly compared her to her group mates.

“I constantly compared myself to the others. Of course, a lot of that was in my head, but a lot of it was past trauma,” she says. “Even recently, I was still getting compared to them. It’s horrible when you already don’t like something about yourself to then have thousands of people point it out. Now I feel like me. When I look back [at my time] in the band, I genuinely wasn’t me. I can’t believe how miserable I was.”

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Nelson tells the mag that she hit her “breaking point” when the quartet were filming the music video for their hit track, “Sweet Melody.”

“We’d been in lockdown, and [that had been] the first time I could have a break and be at home around people that I love. It was the happiest I’d ever felt, and I didn’t realize that until I went back to work,” she recalls.

Nelson continues: “I immediately became a different person. I had anxiety. Whenever we had a music video, I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight.”

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The singer reveals that she forced herself to take on an “extreme diet” and “eat as little as possible” before the shoot.

“On the day of the ‘Sweet Melody’ video I had a panic attack on set because I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself. I looked at the other three and they were having the time of their life,” Nelson shares.

“I get so jealous because I want to feel like that and enjoy it because music is my passion. To have this dream and not be enjoying it because of what I look like, I knew wasn’t normal,” she adds.

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As for what’s next for Nelson, she reveals that she’s in the studio “just having fun,” but doesn’t know when she will be releasing her own solo music.

Check out Nelson’s full interview with Cosmopolitan UK here.