"I cried into my textbook" - Sam Thompson opens up on his battles with anxiety and ADHD

Sam Thompson arrives at the TikTok London office for a screening of Inside Out 2 ahead of its release in cinemas on June 14Sam Thompson arrives at the TikTok London office for a screening of Inside Out 2 ahead of its release in cinemas on June 14
Sam Thompson arrives at the TikTok London office for a screening of Inside Out 2 ahead of its release in cinemas on June 14 | Joe Pepler/PinPep
Sam Thompson has opened up on his battles with anxiety and ADHD during his school years, revealing he broke down in tears as he struggled to revise for his exams.

The 31-year-old felt he would let his family down if he didn’t get accepted into university. 

Speaking at an event to launch the new Disney and Pixar film Inside Out 2 which features new emotions Envy, Ennui, Embarrassment and Anxiety, he said: “I was anxious about my grades all the time.

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“My grades sucked, I failed all of my A-Levels. I felt like I had to apologise to my parents that I wasn’t going to go to university and I had so much anxiety about that.

“I think a lot of that was ADHD because I really struggled to revise and concentrate on a lot of things.”

“With things like ADHD and anxiety, you overanalyse and over plan, and think about things which haven’t even happened. You’re always thinking five steps ahead, which can be quite detrimental.” 

“it came with so much anxiety”

Sam, who won I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last December and has a cameo role in the film, stars alongside Amy Poehler, who plays Joy.

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Other emotions in the film include Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust who are joined by Anxiety, Envy, Ennui and Embarrassment in the sequel. 

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The Made in Chelsea star said: “I remember looking down at my textbook once and I cried into my textbook because the words won’t go in. The words aren’t going into my head and I couldn’t understand why.

“I tried using coloured pens and post it notes, colour code everything, and nothing would go in.”

“Now, I understand that I had ADHD and really struggled to focus. But back then, it came with so much anxiety.” 

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Sam, who features as the voice of Security Man Sam, said while his teachers were “lovely”, they weren’t understanding in a way which helped his learning. 

He said: “I was slamming my hand down and couldn’t understand why. The teachers were lovely, but I was from an era where it was just before people started understanding neurodiversity.

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“We looked at years of my report cards as part of my diagnosis for ADHD and they all said the same thing. ‘Nice guy, really likeable person, needs to apply himself more’. 

“But they never knew why that was the case, and I used to get very frustrated.” 

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Sam is joined at the Inside Out 2 event by Amy Poehler who stars as Joy, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter and director Kelsey Mann.Sam is joined at the Inside Out 2 event by Amy Poehler who stars as Joy, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter and director Kelsey Mann.
Sam is joined at the Inside Out 2 event by Amy Poehler who stars as Joy, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter and director Kelsey Mann. | Joe Pepler/PinPep

Finding coping mechanisms

Speaking at the event at TikTok's London offices, Sam recalled one English teacher – Mr Balfour - who was really strict but gave credit when it was due. 

He said: “He would really push me and tell me when I was doing well

“English literature was the only subject which I got an A in, and he wrote to me during the summer holidays to tell me how proud he was.”

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Speaking about his second teacher who he remembers 22 years later, Mr Foster, he added: “There was a stricter teacher during prep school. He knew I loved football so much, and I wasn’t the best, but he always tried to put me in a good team to help with my mental psyche. 

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“I didn’t realise at the time, but now I look back, that guy clearly understood me and saw how much sport meant to me.”

Now as he’s gotten older, Sam admits he has been able to find coping mechanisms to better deal with his emotions. 

He said: “I think a lot of it is realising we are all the same. No one is better than anyone else. I know this sounds so cliché, but the moment I turned 30, I stopped caring about what people thought.”

Looking back at his time at school, Sam said his one piece of advice for youngsters growing up today would be to stop worrying about what others think about you.

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“Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. I still have that problem now, but if you’re having a bad day, you feel the world is over. But two weeks later, no-one even remembers. That is something I’d tell myself. 

Sam will feature as the voice of Security Man Sam in Pixar's Inside Out 2 - exclusively in cinemas, Friday June 14Sam will feature as the voice of Security Man Sam in Pixar's Inside Out 2 - exclusively in cinemas, Friday June 14
Sam will feature as the voice of Security Man Sam in Pixar's Inside Out 2 - exclusively in cinemas, Friday June 14 | Joe Pepler/PinPep

Celebrate our thoughts and feelings

“As someone who has been very open in the past about my own feelings, I’ve loved being part of a film that not only showcases all our thoughts and feelings, but celebrates them as well.” 

Sam is joined at the Inside Out 2 event by Amy Poehler who stars as Joy, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter and director Kelsey Mann.

Inside Out 2 will be released exclusively in cinemas from Friday 14 June.

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