Coronation Street star Jamie Kenna reveals life-threatening panic attacks | The Sun

ACTOR Jamie Kenna is having a hard time in the cobbles as rejected husband Phill Whittaker.

But off-screen, Coronation Street star tries to cope with anxiety and has opened up about a past breakdown.

In the likes of many other celebrities, Jamie Kenna is willing to put his fame to good use to help people deal with mental health struggles.

This is mostly due to him battling depression and anxiety himself as he recently told The Mirror.

The actor, known to play Jennie McAlpine's spurned lover Phill, suffered a mental breakdown a decade ago and hopes that speaking about his ordeal will push people to do the same.

"I want to use my platform to help people", he said, "I’m a big, working-class guy who looks like he should be on a building site but I’m not afraid to turn round and say if I’m scared or worried."

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Jamie said his mental health issues began in 2011 after he experienced difficulties while swimming in a rough sea.

An avid open water swimmer, he had swum the Channel a few months before and spent hours swimming Windermere.

"But I pushed my luck", he admitted.

"It was December, I was out in the Channel and the sea was too big and freezing cold and I went too far out."

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"I had my first panic attack but I happened to have it in the middle of the ocean. I was about 200m out and it was a very exposing moment."

The 46-year-old feared he wouldn't make it but ultimately managed to swim back to shore.

"I thought that I was invincible but when I got myself into trouble it opened a can of worms", he remembered.

"I suddenly became aware of my own mortality and that triggered a lot of anxiety, panic attacks and depression."

Jamie spent three years not saying anything about his turmoil but couldn't deny it any longer when he had a breakdown in 2014.

At the time, he was appearing in the play War Horse in London.


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"I was completely melting down and knew something was wrong."

"I was going to the doctor – I thought it was my heart or brain."

After visits to the doctor and several therapies, Jamie grew an understanding around his own mental health

Although he still suffers from anxiety, he has become less fearful and knows he can rely on his wife, actress and singer Claire Marlowe.

"Now I understand it. I’m not afraid to turn to my wife and say, ‘I’m having a bit of a moment’."

"As soon as you say it out loud it helps calm you down."

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Jamie even picked swimming back up and often takes a dip near the Brighton home he shares with his other half and their two children.

Meanwhile, on screens, he continues to appear in Coronation Street as Phill Whittaker every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ITV.

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