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15 August 2019, 15:16 | Updated: 15 August 2019, 15:18
Great British Bake Off star John Whaite has opened up about the moment his sister went missing in Portugal.
Former Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite has revealed how he feared for his sister’s life after she went missing on a family holiday to Portugal.
The TV star sent out an appeal to his social media followers for help earlier this month after his sister Victoria Cunningham vanished at Faro Airport.
Victoria suffers from a mental health condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder which can cause severe depression and anxiety in the week or two before the period starts.
Speaking on Loose Women, John opened up about the disorder, explaining: “Over the past seven years or so after she had her first child, she had very serious bouts of what we thought was post-natal depression.
Please share - Victoria is still missing pic.twitter.com/a8cQWoR2ik— John Whaite (@John_Whaite) August 6, 2019
“Mum started to realise she was dreading Victoria coming on her period…she’d become a different person.”
He then revealed that Victoria was diagnosed with PMDD when she visited a hormone specialist.
But speaking about a recent episode of her condition, John - who won the third series of Bake Off in in 2012 - said: “She’d gone to Portugal with her partner and his children. We thought that because she was on a contraceptive, she’d be okay.
“And then it just hit. At the airport, she was due to come home. This moment of sheer panic and distress and anxiety hit and she just fled, she fled the airport. She fled.”
Explaining how it makes his sister feel, the TV chef continued: “One thing for Victoria is it makes her want to crawl out of her skin and get away from wherever she is. So she left. She dropped her passport and ran away.
“Our whole family just stopped. We just didn’t know what to do.”
He admitted: “ She’d talked about suicide in the past, so it was a real concern.
John put out an appeal for help on social media, and luckily, Victoria was recognised by a stranger.
“If it wasn’t for that angel, we don’t know what would have happened,” he said.
When the panelists then asked how she’s feeling now, John replied: “Again her period’s gone now so she seems to be back to the good old Victoria.”
View this post on Instagram
My beautiful sister Victoria has been found alive and sober, but immensely distressed. It seems we got to her just in time. Each and every one of you who has shared and retweeted and commented has today saved a life. The life of a sister, daughter and mother. Mine and my family’s gratitude to you is undying, and we cannot thank you enough for your support. We are now going to focus on getting her home and in good health in the privacy and protection of our family. YOU have saved a life. Thank you ❤️
He then added: “She’s an amazing mother, she’s a fabulous sister – I hope she’s watching because I want her to know how much love and affection I’ve got for her.”
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is described as a “very severe form of premenstrual syndrome” and can make it difficult to work, have healthy relationships, and can sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts.
After Victoria was found safe and sound, the GBBO winner told his fans on Twitter: “I am delighted to say that Victoria has been found. She is alive, she is sober but she is very very distressed (it seems she was found JUST in time).’
He added: “A stranger recognised her and took her into her house. Each and every one of you, who has tweeted, shared and commented, has saved a life today. And I cannot thank you enough – you are all angels.”