Nicola Roberts needed a year of therapy to ''save'' herself.

The 34-year-old singer recalled how she struggled in the aftermath of being stalked by former boyfriend Carl Davies - who was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence in 2017 after he admitted the offence - and sought help to regain her self-respect.

And after sticking with treatment for a year, Nicola never felt more confident.

She said: ''You've got to be your own best friend.

''I had a year of therapy and I swear to God, I went in that with a certain level of self-love, but not enough to keep me out of bad relationships, not enough to try and save people who were toxic for me, not enough to recognise when something was bad, to walk away.

''But, I left that year with the most almighty amount of self-love and self-respect - and that comes before everything, every relationship, every friendship, everything and your relationship with yourself.''

Nicola recalled the negative attention she received when she won a place in Girls Aloud on 'Popstars: The Rivals' in 2002 and thinks they were ''frustrated'' because she didn't look like a ''typical pop star'' because of her red hair and pale skin.

Speaking to Laura Whitmore on the 'Castaway' podcast, she said: ''You're just kind of put in front of a nation of people you know and it's like you've gone from zero opinions to a nation of opinions. That's a really odd thing.

''People used to say, 'Oh did you get picked on for red hair', no way! That was my superpower my whole life! I was really proud of it. It just wasn't even a thought.

''Then when I was in the group I was like 'Oh, it's quite a thing that I've got red hair. Oh, its thing that I'm pale...'

''People were more frustrated that I was in that position, but I didn't look how I was supposed to look and that is a massive eye-opener for society, I think.

''That is a massive eye-opener for people to look in themselves and think, 'Am I frustrated that she doesn't look like a typical popstar? Why does that anger me?' ''