He's battled his way up from rock bottom after therapy for anxiety, chronic depression, low self-esteem and now wants to be a 'better man', writes Now's Amy Brookbanks

Bouncing into the room – on time – James ‘Arg’ Argent was positively beaming with happiness on the day of Now’s exclusive photoshoot. Not only did he seem like a totally different person but he looked it too.

His eyes sparkled, you could slice cheese on his cheekbones and gone are his moobs and beer belly. Arg, who has famously battled with his fluctuating weight for years – has lost one and a half stone after finishing his one-month stint in The Priory.

In this week’s issue Arg pours out his heart and talks only to Now about the reasons why he checked himself in for urgent medical help and therapy for anxiety, chronic depression, low self-esteem and to help end his party-loving lifestyle which was slowly destroying his whole life – he’d lost his friends, the ‘love of his life’ Lydia Bright and his TV career since getting suspended from The Only Way Is Essex.

I’ve known Arg since he first found fame on TOWIE in 2010 and interviewed him many times. He’s always been the life and soul of the party – we’ve been abroad to Marbella and Ibiza and heck, I’ve even hit the headlines alongside him, hilariously, as his ‘mystery woman’. Poor Arg! But nobody – not even us or the biggest TOWIE fans – ever knew the horror of his secret demons.

The bumbling, fun-loving ‘joker’ is no more, and this time on our exclusive photoshoot you could instantly tell Arg is taking life more seriously. He had rushed straight from his boxing class where he now goes every morning, gave us his full attention, he was fully-focused, could hold a conversation and he was an absolute pleasure to work with, albeit a little apprehensive and completely self-deprecating. The Arg I used to know always arrived late, was usually too busy messing around to pay much attention and would regularly be scoffing junk food or have a boozy drink in his hand – but it’s clear that Arg is long gone.

Watch Arg explain what happened to him in our exclusive video here

‘Do you think this is the right thing for me to do?’ He quietly asked me, as he nervously sipped from a bottle of water. Not only does Arg need to pay off his huge rehab bill, which he paid himself, talking about his problems has helped him come to terms with what happened to him last year and save himself from a very public meltdown. And Arg should be absolutely applauded and completely proud of himself for being so brave and opening up about what he’s done. Instead of partying up a storm like most 27-year-olds on his birthday or celebrating Christmas with his family and friends like the rest of us, Arg spent the whole of December alone in The Priory attending therapy and healing his demons.

Now he’s got his best friends back, he’s not interested in comfort eating or drowning his sorrows with a bottle of vodka and despite not knowing whether he’ll ever get his job on TOWIE back, Arg is the happiest he’s ever been – he’s battled his way up from rock bottom and he’s on a journey to ‘become a better man’ – and finally, Arg is putting himself and his own happiness first.

I couldn’t be happier for him. Well done Arg.