At 40-years-old Suranne Jones’ career is skyrocketing, with a Bafta under her belt for ‘Doctor Foster’ and millions tuning in to her gripping BBC drama ‘Gentleman Jack’. But while the Manchester born beauty exudes confidence on screen she admits not so long ago she was riddled with anxiety.
The down-to-earth actress has come a long way from her ‘Coronation Street’ days and in the last few years she’s had a jam packed work schedule she’s certainly worked hard for.
In addition to her career she’s also a wife to scriptwriter Laurence Akers, and a mum to their three-year-old boy and yet there was more going on with Suranne than the picture perfect life everyone could see.
At a time when she should have been high on life, having won a Bafta and watching her career go from strength to strength she was also dealing with her beloved mother’s serious decline into vascular dementia which resulted in her untimely death. On top of that, she was a new mum, was performing in harrowing West End play ‘Frozen’ (not of the Disney variety) and it all became too much. In Feburary 2018 she had an emotional breakdown.
“I look back and go, wow. I’m not surprised it affected me along the way,” Jones says. “Something had to give.”
She collapsed backstage mid-way through a performance of ‘Frozen’ and ended up pulling out of the show altogether.
Suzanne now realises she wasn’t just handling an incredibly busy schedule she was suffering from anxiety too.
“I’d been feeling edgy, nervous around people, not being able to converse properly. Not being able to get my points across” she explains. “Being in the theatre didn’t help. I don’t think theatre was the cause, but I think it heightened it. You’ve got a 1,000-seater full of people staring at you.
“And when you feel the anxiety, breathlessness, it’s just drilling right into your solar plexus and you think, f***. This is something I can’t stop, not once the show’s started.”
Suranne says her skills as an actress meant she was able to put on a brave face even when she was crumbling on the inside and admits she built up a resilience.
“I probably did that too much. Put all the bad stuff to one side, and worked and worked and worked…I’m really good at compartmentalising,” she adds.
Suranne took time off to focus on her family and her mental health before making a triumphant return as lesbian Anne Lister in the BBC period drama ‘Gentleman Jack’.
Now she feels like she’s in a good place but says she’s learned a valuable lesson from her emotional collapse just last year.
“That the inner light, the inner confidence, can go out of all of us,” she says. “And if you lose it personally, that inner thing, you can’t put it out professionally, because that’s where it all comes from, inside you.”
If you found Suranne’s honest account interesting you might also like to read what these other celebrities said about their struggles with anxiety, depression and mental health.