Estelle Landy Opens Up About Chronic Pain: “You Learn to Block It Out”

estelle landy big brother

To hear that Estelle Landy was worried she’d be evicted quickly from Big Brother Royalty Vs New Contenders, makes sense — she does, after all, come with the unfortunate title of being one of Australia’s most nominated housemates of all time. But while chatting to The Latch following her eviction from the house, Landy said that it was the challenges — rather than her housemates — that she was most worried about.

“It’s funny because until I won that first challenge against Joel [Notley], I was terrified of those challenges,” Landy recalled. “I was like ‘damn, I’m gonna be out of here within the first few weeks, because I just cannot do those challenges’.”

Indeed, going into the challenge you could see the hesitation on Landy’s face.

“I’ve got dodgy wrists,” she told Big Brother, before managing to win the endurance challenge after sticking it out for nearly three hours.

While chatting to The Latch she explained that her chronic pain has been brought on by “a series of events”.

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“I broke my back snowboarding twice, and I’ve got early on-set arthritis with that,” she said. “But that’s not actually the problem. I had a car accident — I’m so lucky I didn’t actually die — and I actually damaged the nerves that meet in my neck. So I’ve got nerve pain, which is the worst pain, and I’ve got carpal tunnel symptoms in my hands.” 


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A post shared by Estelle Landy (@estelleey)

Describing the pain as “an ongoing ache”, Landy explained that for two years, she was unable to prepare food or even hold her own cutlery, which had a devastating ripple effect on her life.

“I had to get in-home help, I lost my job,” she said. “I thought it was — not the end of my life, but the end of my life as I knew it.”

Reflecting on her time on Big Brother Australia, she added: “It’s crazy to think that I’ve come back and done what I’ve done!”

As someone who has lived with chronic pain for 13 years, I wanted to know more about what it was like to compete in those challenges.

“This is a really great question, can I just say, because chronic pain is something that often isn’t talked about because most of the time people can’t see it,” Landy said.

Having dealt with “varying levels of pain for the last six years, every day”, Landy said that although “pain is physical”, there’s also “this mental ability to just keep pushing through”, which enabled her to not only compete, but win, some of Big Brother’s most intense endurance challenges.

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“My tolerance [for dealing with pain] has obviously gone up,” she mused, adding: “I also think that emotionally, I’ve had a very emotionally traumatic childhood and I feel like I have been able to draw on that emotional and physical resilience and bring it up to kind of block out [the pain].”

Calling it “crazy”, Landy said that despite feeling like her “fingers were going to snap off”, after winning the challenge against Notley, she “went through this cathartic, ‘oh my God, maybe a lot of this is mental and I got through it!’” moment with her pain, but it was, unfortunately, a short-lived victory.

“I hate to say that the challenge where I was holding my body weight up against Brenton [Parkes] for two hours, I’ve had pain again since then,” she said.

Although it’s “not great”, Landy said she’s “so used to it” now. “It’s like, I’m lying here now and I have pain,” she said. “But again, you learn to block it out.”

As for what she hopes people took from her time in the Big Brother house this time around, Landy said that she wants people to see themselves reflected in her.

“Part of me I feel like in my life has been not about myself,” she began. “I wanted people to be like ‘I see parts of me’, even you saying ‘I have chronic pain and I saw what you did and it was crazy’, I want people to actually know that we’re all not that different but we all have this power inside of us.”


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A post shared by Estelle Landy (@estelleey)

Noting that “it sounds corny to say ‘own your own game’”, Landy said that she hopes people can see her overcome obstacles like the ones she faced in the house, like the challenges and her showdown with fellow OG Tim Dormer, and still come out on top.

“Even when the odds are stacked against you, even if you feel like you’ve had a rough run in life or things have been really tough, you can get out the other side and push through life on your own merit,” she said, adding “it’s okay to be different to everyone else.”

“Even if you have a different opinion and you’re standing on your own, it’s okay,” she said. “I’m hoping that I’ve empowered some people — especially those who don’t feel like they fit in — that they don’t have to fit in to have a good life.

“They can just be a kind, genuine person and hopefully they’ll still be successful.”

Big Brother Royalty Vs New Contenders airs Monday – Wednesdays at 7.30pm, only on 7 and 7 Plus.

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