TV presenter Alison Hammond was so traumatised by being called an elephant at school she still has a panic attack every time she hears the word.
She also told how she had “heart palpitations” after seeing one of the animals on safari as she feared people would equate it with her.
Alison, 46, said: “It may sound crazy but whenever I hear the word ‘elephant’, it takes me back to being at school and the nasty comments the boys used to make about me.
“When I hear someone say ‘elephant’, I instantly think they must be talking about me.
“Anything to do with elephants sets it off. I remember it happening when I was on safari once.
“Some elephants came into view and I had heart palpitations because I was worried that someone was going to say, ‘Alison, look! An elephant, like you’.”
Revealing she suffers PTSD, the star told how she was at an awards bash where Brian May said there was an “elephant in the room” and she thought he was referring to her.
Opening up in her new book You’ve Got to Laugh, Alison added she was at the ceremony with fellow Big Brother star Kate Lawler.
She said: “We didn’t notice a band coming onstage to perform – we were too busy gossiping.
“Suddenly, Brian May said, ‘We’re trying to listen and I can’t hear a word of the singing. Could you keep your noise down?’
“We stopped talking. But you know when you’ve been told off and you’re a bit giggly? ‘Oh, my gosh, we just got told off by Brian May from Queen!’
“Things got worse when the band left the stage. Brian May got up to make a speech and started off by saying, ‘Now, there’s an elephant in the room, isn’t there?’”
Alison said she mistakenly thought he was talking about her.
She added: “I had a full-on panic he was going to start embarrassing me in front of everybody.” In fact, the rocker was referring to something completely different.
She continued: “‘Of course I wasn’t talking about you!’ he said. ‘I just really wanted to hear the singers and you were too loud’.
“I’m not sure what lesson I took away from that day, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who lives with PTSD dating back to their schooldays.”
Alison had the last laugh on class bullies by becoming one of TV’s top presenters.
After finding fame on Big Brother, the Birmingham star has propelled This Morning to record Friday ratings along with Dermot O’Leary.
Her interviews with film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are now YouTube sensations and she was recently nominated for an National Television Award for Best Presenter.
- Alison Hammond: You’ve Got to Laugh is out now.
Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us direct 0207 29 33033.