Emmerdale star Anna Nightingale has recalled suffering from ‘overwhelming’ panic attacks while on set of the ITV soap, saying that on one occasion, she ‘couldn’t breathe’.
Last month, shockwaves spread through Emmerdale village when it emerged that Andrea Tate (Anna) had died, with no one aware that Meena Jutla (Paige Sandhu) was responsible for the character’s death.
Anna, who’s been on the drama since 2019, was thrilled with Andrea’s exit storyline, saying that after speaking to the producers of the show about her departure, the final moments they devised were ‘beyond what I expected’.
However, in a new interview, the actor opened up about an earlier time filming the soap when she was struggling with her mental health, experiencing panic attacks when she became ‘completely overwhelmed’.
Speaking to The Sun, Anna explained that six months after joining the production her ‘physical and mental health really began to deteriorate’ because she was ‘so exhausted’, working 60-hour weeks and commuting between Leeds for filming and London.
‘Those were some of the toughest times. I was working so hard – like everyone does on Emmerdale – and my immune system was struggling because I was so run down,’ she said.
Anna explained that she ‘started to feel lonely’ and like she was a ‘failure’, which was also fuelled by a Facebook group she was invited to that cruelly insulted her appearance.
‘I definitely felt like I was going to burn out. And that’s when the panic attacks started,’ she stated.
The My Mad Fat Diary star recalled how her worst attack occurred while filming a scene inside Woolpack Pub with more than 20 co-stars, when she ‘felt completely overwhelmed’.
‘I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t know what I was doing and I couldn’t remember any of my lines. It was like a nightmare because it was so public,’ she said.
Anna explained that she couldn’t remember her lines, which made her ‘panic’ because she ‘cared about the opinions’ of her colleagues.
‘Then the panic kicked in and I started sweating. I was shaking, my breathing went and I was crying,’ she said.
Fortunately, Anna’s co-stars provided her with help, with others sharing how they’d had similar experiences.
She also received support from the bosses of Emmerdale, saying that while she’s now ‘grateful’ for what she went through, ‘because it feels like something I had to go through’ at the time she was ‘absolutely mortified’.
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