Hollyoaks spoilers follow.
Hollyoaks star Alex Fletcher has revealed that there is danger ahead for her character, Diane Hutchinson, as her growing fears over her family's safety lead her to have a "bad accident".
Fans have recently seen Diane struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder, a mental health condition which can manifest in repetitive, obsessive thoughts and a compulsion to perform certain behaviours.
Pregnant Diane has become obsessed with keeping her home clean and ensuring that her family is safe over recent weeks, and her worries are set to escalate when she starts to believe that the electrical system in her home isn't safe.
When a lightbulb blows in the flat, Diane fears that a fire could break out. Her husband Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard) brushes off her requests to ask an electrician to take a closer look, but Diane's concerns become so strong that she ends up cancelling her ultrasound appointment at the hospital.
Actress Alex has told Inside Soap that Diane's decision to skip her appointment is "actually irresponsible", but that she is worrying too much to be able to bring herself to go.
"She feels that she's had enough babies now to know that everything's fine," she explained. "She won't go due to germs, and Tony believes she's overreacting. Tony doesn't know the first thing about obsessive compulsive disorder, and he just thinks Diane's being a typical pregnant lady, so he tries to be respectful and not start an argument with her."
However, Tony is aware that something is amiss with Diane, and so he asks Nancy Osborne (Jessica Fox) to check in on Diane at home. But Diane becomes very agitated about having Nancy in her home and can't get her to leave fast enough.
Struggling with her obsessive thoughts, Diane then suffers an accident once she is alone.
"Diane has a bad accident because of the electrics she's obsessing over," Alex explained. "It all gets out of hand – she's not coping at all, which is really sad. It pulls at my heartstrings when Diane has anxieties – it all goes at 100 miles an hour, and she just can't claw it back."
The actress added that Diane "feels as if she's lost all control" in her life as she struggles during her pregnancy.
"By making sure everything's clean, tidy and everyone's safe, she's getting some of that control back," Alex said. "But Diane's checking everything all the time, then doubting that she's checked it in the first place, so doing it all again – she's physically drained."
The actress, who has played Diane since 2010, added that she feels "so lucky" to have been given another big storyline and has been pleased to be able to raise awareness of OCD.
"This has been trickier, as Diane has voices in her head so there are double the lines to learn, and almost like two roles to play," she said. "I've learned so much from the charity OCD UK, and spoken to those who were so honest about their experience.
"It can take over your life, affect your day and job, then there's the anxiety it brings, and how important it is to have support from family and friends."
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). Help and information can also be found at OCD UK. Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.
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