Only Way is Essex star Gemma Collins reveals to the personal traumas she’s kept secret – until now...

SHE’S a bubbly, outspoken blonde on ITV2’s the Only Way Is Essex, who oozes confidence and appears the least likely member of the cast to hide her problems.

But while she's been on the cult reality show, Gemma Collins, 32, has managed to keep secret her anguish at suffering a miscarriage, which added to the grief she already felt about a previous abortion.

Off screen, this down-to-earth girl still has to brush away the tears as she talks about those and other traumatic events in her life, which she’s revealed in her autobiography, Basically... My Life As A Real Essex Girl.

She says: “Everyone regards me as the mother hen on the show, because I’m older than the rest of them.

“But inside, at times, I can be just as vulnerable and insecure as anyone else, but I just don’t show it.”

She’s needed all her strength to cope, not only with those personal upheavals, but also a barrage of wounding public criticism about her weight – she’s a size 20.

She says: “Although I love being famous, I’m just a girl who wants to be loved and have kids, so the termination and miscarriage were heartbreaking for me,” she admits.

“I certainly didn’t realise what it would be like to be in the spotlight and have everyone saying whatever they liked about you.” In 2010, before Towie, she discovered she was pregnant just as a five-year relationship with a City banker started faltering.

Doctors advised her the foetus could have been harmed because she’d continued to take the contraceptive pill and had medication for what she assumed was an upset stomach.

She says: “I have polycystic ovaries. I got three doctors’ opinions and they said the baby might be damaged because of what I’d taken. “Not only that, my relationship had started to break down. I didn’t think it was right to go through with it.”

Heartbroken, she visited a clinic twice before being able to finally face having the termination and then went through a year of depression, and even once self-harmed.

She admits: “I cut myself just once and I’ve never done it again – it scared me too much. To comfort myself, I ate. Food was an emotional crutch for me."

Collins, who had an on-off romance with cast member James “Arg” Argent, but says they’re now “just best friends”, is living with her current boyfriend, Rami Hawash.

“I really love him and hope he’s Mr Right, but if he doesn’t put a ring on my finger within a year, I’m ‘offski’,” she vows.