Hollyoaks spoilers follow.
OCD, also known as obsessive compulsive disorder, is a common mental health condition where a person has repetitive thoughts and behaviours they can't control.
In the coming weeks, Hollyoaks will begin to air the lasting impact of Diane's abusive relationship with Edward Hutchinson, the father of her unborn baby, and the effects it's had on her mental health.
Speaking about her character's experience, actress Alex Fletcher called the opportunity to lead such an important, issues-based storyline "an honour". "I hope I can do justice to [it] and I'm intrigued to learn more about the disorder," she said.
"Like many people, I've heard of OCD but was shocked to hear how much it can inhibit people's lives. That's why it's so important to get the facts out there, especially during the current pandemic when it's affecting even more people."
Revealing how Diane's pregnancy and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will compound her experience with OCD, Alex continued: "Diane loves Tony and her children more than anything and I think she's felt partly responsible for letting Edward into their lives and putting them all in harms way.
"She now feels an overwhelming need to protect them all and this comes out as obsessive behaviour, which is so consuming for Diane."
Hollyoaks will be working alongside the charity OCD-UK for the storyline. The organisation has praised the Channel 4 soap for raising awareness of the condition, saying that "it's so important to highlight the signs and help others."
"Obsessive compulsive disorder goes far beyond the cleaning rituals that most people perceive when they think of OCD," Ashley Fulwood, CEO of OCD-UK, explained.
"For the person suffering, those rituals can be driven by a deluge of unwanted, graphic, intrusive thoughts and worries about harm coming to a loved one. Whilst OCD is treatable, if left untreated this anxiety disorder can have devastating consequences on those that suffer, impacting upon careers, education and relationships.
"For some women, pregnancy and the associated worries and concerns can exacerbate OCD to the point of crisis, to the point of despair, to the point of desperation. This is what we'll see with Diane in Hollyoaks".
Hollyoaks currently airs new episodes from Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.
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