ELLIE Goulding has said 2021 was the very best but hardest year of her life in a message to her fans.

Posting on Instagram, the Herefordshire-born pop singer, explained to her fans how she had been struggling with anxiety.

Born in Hereford and growing up in Lyonshall, near Kington, the former Lady Hawkins School pupil began her rise to fame when she signed her first record deal in 2009.

But the Starry Eyed singer, 35, has struggled with anxiety for several years and in a message to her fans on New Year's Eve, she said 2021 had been the hardest of her life.

Goulding and husband Casper Jopling, who now live in Oxfordshire, welcomed their first child, Arthur, in 2021 and it was "the greatest joy" she had known.

But Goulding admitted she had also been "crippled by anxiety" during the year.

She also said she had worked with great musicians and writers throughout the year, released a book and performed to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"I have a dog and a cat that love me, I have friends that really love me, and I have a husband that adores and supports me every single day," she said on Instagram.

"But this year has also been the hardest of my life.

"I've struggled daily, nightly, hourly, with a kind of panic I didn't even know existed.

"While the moments of being on stage in front of all of you have been some of the most exhilarating and calming, this year I have been struggling.

"If I was to really think about it, my anxiety has dictated quite a lot of my life and career, and I feel sad about that.

"But it has also made me who I am, and sometimes at my most terrified, when I feel there is no escape from the sheer panic and dread in my heart and brain, I remind myself that I can feel.

"I feel so much and that is how I have got to this place in my life."

Goulding, who studied at Hereford Sixth Form College, went on to say that she had been scared to admit to fans that she had not been very good lately, feeling like "something is broken inside".

She said she knew some of her fans reading the message would feel the same, telling them "we're together and we can get through this – most importantly, by talking".

"Talking and opening up is the hardest, and the best thing you can do," Goulding, whose debut album Lights reached number one on the UK charts, said.

"Life is a precious thing and seeing Arthur grow every day gives me so much hope,

"I have so much love and energy for anyone going through this.

"Let's get through this together. 2022 is going to be a bright year. Positive energy. Together."