EXCLUSIVE: Roxanne Pallett: ‘I should have got help 20 years ago’

Roxanna Pallett

by Neeru Sharma |
Updated on

Roxanne Pallett has broken her silence in an exclusive interview with this week’s Closer magazine, revealing she has been diagnosed with complex PTSD.

The actress has been a virtual recluse for the past ten months. Last August, she hit the headlines after accusing former Corrie star Ryan Thomas of intentionally punching her in the ribs in the CBB house, even as cameras showed he only playfully jabbed her. The incident became one of the most talked-about TV moments of the year – but Roxanne felt her life was left in tatters, as she faced an unprecedented backlash.

The 37-year-old admits she still feels nervous to be talking about the situation for the first time in months.

She says, “It’s been a real mountain to climb, for me to get to this point today. I’ve been nervous about it, because my confidence has taken a knock. It’s daunting, as people still have their opinions of me, which they are completely entitled to.

"It’s bad enough when one person doesn’t like you, but when thousands are against you… But I do understand it. The last few months have been the most valuable and rewarding of my life. I’ve completely reset my mind and my thoughts. I went off the grid for therapy, which was needed for my mental health.”

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Celebrity Big Brother's most outrageous moments SLIDER

roxanne pallett emmerdale1 of 31
CREDIT: Channel 5

Roxanne Pallett accused Ryan Thomas of punching her

When Roxanne Pallett and Ryan Thomas were playing fighting no one was quite prepared when the Emmerdale actress claimed that he punched her hard in the ribs. She was quick to tell the rest of the housemates, ask Big Brother why Ryan wasn't removed from the house and branded him 'a liar', 'manipulative' and 'calculating'. During an eviction the CBB crowd were chanting for Roxanne to leave and shortly after she quit the show.That didn't stop the nation from being furious and Ofcom received over 11,000 complaints. She's since apologised for her actions but Ryan's brother Adam has slammed her apology and so has the Corrie star's girlfriend Lucy Mecklenburgh.

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Christopher Biggins' shocking removal

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Stephen Bear and Chloe Khan's bathroom saga

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Stephanie Davis' knickers humiliation

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Lewis Bloor and Marnie Simpson's shower scene

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Perez Hilton harassing Katie Hopkins

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Leslie Jordan's row with Frenchy

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Spencer and Heidi Pratt's villainous antics

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Lauren Harries falling over 24/7

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Denise Welch's drunken antics

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Vanessa Feltz tragic meltdown

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Ryan Thomas CBB

Nearly a year on, she’s bitterly remorseful over her actions. “I absolutely regret what happened on the show, one hundred per cent. I got it monumentally wrong, and I’m sorry to Ryan and his family, for the pain I inflicted on him and others who were watching. I think it’s important, when you’ve done something wrong, that you immediately hold your hands up and make sure everyone knows you’re sorry.”

She adds: “All I could do was take myself away, figure out why I reacted that way, rebuild myself into a better person and hope that people would one day show me some compassion.”

Roxanne Pallett

Roxanne admits that in the months that followed, her life spiralled out of control. She ended her whirlwind relationship to now-ex-fiancé Lee Walton, 40, deleted her social media after a barrage of abuse, and didn’t leave the house for two months, through fear of being verbally or physically assaulted.

She says, “It was an awful blur. All my insecurities were heightened. I had feelings of paranoia, and feared something bad would happen to me. When the phone rang, I’d feel sick. If I passed someone on the street, I was convinced they meant me harm. I was told that people were saying they wanted to throw acid in my face and that I was more hated than a murderer.

"I lost a stone and a half, and dropped to a size 4 during the period betweenleaving Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls and after CBB. My hair was falling out, and my insomnia got worse. I felt drained, exhausted and out of breath. I wasn’t eating or sleeping or leaving the house, and I was only talking to three other people.”

Roxanne Pallett Celebrity Island
©Channel 4

Roxanne admits she reached breaking point after reading about herself.

She says, “I’d been advised not to read what had been said at the beginning, but I couldn’t wrap myself in cotton wool. One night, I read everything, and I completely broke down. The room was spinning, and I was crying till there were no tears left. I thought, When will this end? I just didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to die, but I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

A diagnosis for complex PTSD – along with regular sessions with a therapist, and anti-depressants – have helped her address the CBB outburst, and her previous struggles. Roxanne has been open about her mental health issues, after being trapped in a house fire when she was 16, having been in an abusive relationship, and coping with her best friend’s suicide and the death of her gran in quick succession. And she believes these issues are inextricably linked to her behaviour in CBB, and are also behind her quitting Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls after just five days.

Roxanne Pallett

She says, “Everyone has struggles, and I’m not using mine to justify my behaviour. But looking back, I should have got help 20 years ago. Two weeks before Celebrity Big Brother,I’d been in a car crash and the minute it happened I was on edge and defensive. I was hiding a huge breakdown. My mind had gone to mush, I was getting flashbacks of the house fire and I wasn’t thinking straight. I kept changing my mind and being erratic. I was jumping to conclusions that weren’t accurate, yet still I laughed and put on a pretense. These invisible wounds were destroying me.”

But counselling sessions, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and a month’s break in Tennessee have given her a clearer perspective.

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“After shutting myself away, I knew I had to go from hiding to healing. Reading the online comments was the breakthrough moment. I read one that said ‘she needs help’, and that was the defining moment, because it was true. My doctor put me on antidepressants for panic disorder and depression and I got in contact with a mental health charity who put me in touch with a therapist in Scotland, who was shocked at the state of me.

"I told him I’d been feeling like this since I was 16, and asked him to make it go away. He said the car crash had triggered PTSD from anxiety from previous traumas in my life and he immediately diagnosed me.”

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She adds: “Now I’m much calmer, I’m less argumentative and defensive, and I’ll have EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) and CBT therapy for as long as I need. I’ve had to go back to some horrible chapters and relive them, in order to fix them and stop them from controlling me.”

Before CBB, Roxanne hit the headlines for her relationship with steel worker, Lee Walton. They became engaged just a week after they met on social media in December 2017, and even got matching ring finger tattoos. But now she admits their pairing was a mistake.

Closer magazine issue 856

She says: “The first major decision I made after CBB was to end my relationship. Last year, I got embarrassingly carried away and badly wanted to carve out some happiness. I looked at my friends who were engaged and settled with kids; I was 36 and didn’t have any of that. If anybody had shown me affection, and told me we had things in common, I would have just clung to it – and that’s what happened. It was contrived happiness. I was engaged to someone I didn’t know. The isolation after CBB gave me clarity, and I realised Lee wasn’t the one and it wouldn’t have been fair to stay when my heart wasn’t in it. He isn’t a bad person, we were just on different pages.”

And as she looks to her future, Roxanne believes she’s become the best version of herself since seeking help. She says, “Last year doesn’t define my life. It was two weeks out of 36 years, but CBB was the biggest wake-up call of my life – and the most valuable lesson. It broke me, but then it made me. For now, my priorities have changed. Life isn’t about a career or success, it’s about being healthy and happy. I’ve already been working with mental health groups, sharing my story and helping others. I want to use my platform and be an advocate for mental health, and piece myself together. It might take the rest of my life, but that’s OK.”

The full interview appears in this week’s Closer magazine, on sale now.

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