Joey's mum Tina died when he was 10

Joey Essex admits that he refused to believe his mum was dead for many years.

The TOWIE star was just 10 when his mother Tina committed suicide in 2001 after battling mental health problems and he struggled to accept the news of her death, which came after she’d been missing for three days.

It was the biggest shock of everyone’s life,’ says Joey, 23.

But I didn’t really believe it, to be fair. I was upset and crying, but after a while I thought, “Nah, she’ll come back.”

For the first five years I never believed it.’

Joey – who along with sister Frankie was raised by dad Donny following Tina‘s passing – still has bad times when he thinks about losing his mother but luckily his friends and family are always there to lift his spirits.

It is what it is and I can’t change the past so I just try to pick myself back up again,’ the I’m A Celebrity contestant tells The Sun.

My mates’ mums also give me a lot of support.

I can turn to them if I’m having an off day and do all the things a mum and son might do, like go shopping or have lunch.’

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Anna Francis