She’s been suffering in silence for weeks, but tonight Jac Naylor (Rosie Marcel) and her mental health struggles in Holby City will reach rock bottom with explosive consequences.
Jac’s problems began when ex-husband Jonny and new wife Stacey announced that they would be moving to Edinburgh and after spending weeks questioning her parental ability, Jac let daughter Emma (Darcey Burke) move to Edinburgh with Jonny and Stacey.
With the arrival of Professor Elliott Hope (Paul Bradley) back at the start of November, it didn’t take long before he began to notice something wasn’t quite right with Jac but try as he might, Jac was adamant nothing was wrong with her, and continued to ignore Elliott’s concerns.
Tonight Jac prepares to operate on Elliott after learning about his ill health, but as much as she attempts to stay focused it’s clear that the pressure of operating on the only father figure Jac’s ever had in her life starts to affect her before the operation has even began.
With such a challenging storyline, Metro.co.uk recently spoke to Rosie Marcel about her own struggles she faced when she was filming the storyline, and how initially she didn’t even want to do it:
‘I didn’t want to do the storyline. I have kept quiet about it because I really didn’t want to do it. When they approached me, I thought ‘I think I’m the wrong person to do this having had my own mental health problems, I don’t really want to put myself at risk and I think I would be putting myself at risk.
‘It was a really really big decision to do it, much helped by the lovely Kate Oates who used to be a Samaritan, she talked me through it and she gave me some options like looking at the script early, flagging up anything that didn’t feel right or real to me.
‘In the end because I’ve been through it myself in some description, it became really important to tell the story of not just people with mental health issues but for women! Working women, this is a really really important story for women who not only work, not just single mothers, mothers who don’t spend any time with their children and that’s something I face daily. I don’t get to see my daughter much at all and its heart-breaking and its hard, and you need to earn money for your family and there’s never anything left for yourself.’
She added: ‘In the end I just thought so long as I keep myself healthy and continue to go to therapy on a weekly basis, hopefully I can do this justice and when I watch it, which is very rarely because I don’t like watching it, I find it very difficult to watch because for me, it was real, I didn’t act, I actually did have a little breakdown that day and took me 20 minutes to pull myself back together because I don’t know how you act something like that?’
We end tonight’s episode after Jac has a very emotional and overwhelming breakdown. With Rosie taking on board how it could affect her own mental health, she continues on to reveal how difficult it was:
‘It was a tough day for everybody. I think I walloped Alex (Walkinshaw) a few times! We only did that scene once because from the offset I knew where I had to get to and from that point I said ‘look I don’t know that I’m going to be able to do this more than once so you need to do everything you can to try and get this shot correct first time round’. I actually had to shoot that without Darcey who plays Emma being there because we couldn’t subject her to those things. We did the whole massive breakdown with all the screaming and the crying and the we re-shot sections with Emma in where I was less upset.’
Viewers have spent weeks wanting Jac to talk to someone about how she is feeling, but as Jac still struggles despite being given opportunities to say what’s on her mind, Rosie explains about why her character isn’t comfortable with talking about how she is feeling: ‘I think it’s because she’s grown up alone. She was dumped by her mother and put into foster care and like a lot of children who that’s happened to, you fight for yourself.
‘There’s only you, you only have to rely on yourself, you can’t rely on others, and I think that’s the basis of Jac’s personality, no one is ever going to fight for you so you just need to crack on and do it yourself and just get on with it basically! She attempts to talk to people occasionally and I just don’t think she trusts herself enough to be able to confide in people that they won’t use it against her or trust other people enough.
‘In my own similar situation, I think I struggled for years before I actually had my nervous breakdown and got some help. I have been asked recently “why didn’t you go and see someone before?” and I was stubborn! I was like “I can fix this; I can do it myself I don’t need help”. And I think that’s still very similar with a lot of people and it’s very similar with our culture and I think luckily now, it’s becoming really acceptable to say; “I have mental health issues and I need help.’”
When asked if there was anything in particular that Rosie wanted to get across during this storyline, she revealed: ‘That it was done right, that it was done correctly. The people who approached me with it, as far as I know, haven’t had any mental health problems. It’s very hard to sit in a room with your superiors and say “you don’t get it! I’m sorry, but you don’t get it”. Luckily Kate Oates did, and I ended up having a very, very long conversation with her about it and she understood completely where I was coming from. They were extremely open about letting me do that and they gave me a day off a week to go and get therapy as well. I have to be grateful for that.’
With a heartbreaking end to the episode coming up, Rosie revealed all on what it was like to work with Alex Walkinshaw on those final scenes: ‘It was very difficult. Alex is very good at knowing when someone needs space. I will be very grateful to him for the rest of my life that when I was doing this storyline, he was very careful to get me the space that I needed. He often ushered me off set and find me a quiet space and I was extremely grateful for that.
‘He also knows my process and he knew that to get to where I had to get to that day I had to keep my headphones in, I had to not be bothered, I didn’t want any makeup I didn’t want any hair, I just wanted to get it done. He was very careful to keep people away from me, which was lovely, obviously within reason! I spoke to the director and people like that! I love Alex, I think he’s a wonderful person, he’s been my friend for an extremely long time since we did The Bill together and I’m really glad I had those scenes with him.’
With Rosie using her experiences to raise awareness for mental health problems, she shares her own message to those in a similar situation: ‘Just don’t suffer in silence. We are a much better culture of listeners now and just talk, please, talk to people. Find strength to say something to someone. There’s nothing wrong with you, you can fix it. ‘This too will pass’ as my grandfather used to say.’
See the emotional episode of Holby City tonight at 8pm on BBC One.
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