Bloodlands star Charlene McKenna opens up about mental breakdown in her career


Award-winning Irish actress Charlene McKenna has revealed she suffered a blackout while starring in the hit series RTÉ, Raw.

McKenna explained that it wasn’t even the first time she’s felt emotional stress, admitting that she ignored the first outage.

She said, “I would sort of say I had two types of breakdowns. The last one was about ten years ago and that was right when everything… I hadn’t stopped.

“I hadn’t caught up with my… I just had a total blackout and had to come home and figure out a lot of things and start therapy and realize I had to look back on a lot of things and what got me there, but it really wasn’t a laughing matter.

Charlene remembered the first time she had a panic attack, but ignored all the red flags at the time.

“I was coming back from London and a group of us had gone out to Dublin. I think it was 09/08. It was New Years Eve, we had a great evening, we partied and had a great time and I remember waking up the next day at my boyfriend’s house at the then parents’ house, I really had the hangover..

“Our relationship was fraying, and I didn’t see it either. I couldn’t see it.

“There were so many red flags that were being ignored. It was that day that I was driving home to Monaghan anyway, I remember feeling the car coming closer to me, I felt I couldn’t not catching my breath.I was obviously having my panic attack.

“I got home and got in Daddy’s chair and Ellen was in it, and I remember Ellen didn’t really cheer me on. I had this feeling for about six months, ”said the 37-year-old.

But later that year she experienced another depression and had to return home from London to Monaghan to recover.

Charlene said she had achieved “a lot of young things” and put “tremendous pressure on myself”.

“I have never stopped thinking about side effects and they will always catch up with me. You can’t bury this stuff.

“I was doing Raw, I was the leader and I was wearing the show. It was so successful, but I kept going, I kept going and it was still in my mid-twenties, so I was living in London, I was partying and I just kept going. Smoke came out of my ears.

When she got home she said she was just “flat out” and “so sick, so anxious and so tired”.

“I remember dad telling me, actually, I would pay any money if you even argue with me, because I was so flat.” I cried but I wasn’t even crying. I was nothing. I was so sick, so anxious and so tired. I remember waking up anxiety waking me up at 3am .. you know how it goes it’s like that gremlin in your stomach and then i remember the thoughts, all the intrusive thoughts of bulls ** t unrelated thoughts start to spin.

“I remember it was spinning so fast that I remember physically standing by the side of the bed.

“I remember talking to my parents .. I couldn’t express myself but they were very open to what I needed,” she told Doireann Garrihy’s Laugh of Your Life podcast.

She said she was lucky at the time because her brother lived next door to a psychologist who saw her.

“It was the start of a great road of recovery and therapy and seeing the wood forming the trees and finding myself better than before like on a better basis so that hopefully it doesn’t happen again or if that happens, you have the tools now. “

But she admitted that she wouldn’t change it, because it happened for a reason.

Charlene also spoke about the first time she met her husband, Adam Rothenburg. The couple married in January during the lockdown in an intimate ceremony at Castle Leslie.

The Bloodlands star said: “It was in 2012. We all had dinner with actors and we sat across from each other and we didn’t talk because it was a big table. .. he was on the other side of the table, and he said he remembers thinking ‘she’s a bitch’ and I remember not thinking of him because he doesn’t really speak but the next day or two days later it was suggested to meet us for coffee because we were going to be touring together soon so it was good to have a conversation.

“Oh my god, I just fell in love with him. He made me scream with laughter, slap a table. I just remember the laughter, then I followed it – I didn’t realize how weird it was.

She said she had followed him to Fallon and Byrne for shopping later that day, adding, “I was just mad at him.”

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