TOUGH TIMES EastEnders legend and Strictly winner reveals devastating booze battle, saying ‘I felt shame and desperation’

A TOP EastEnders star has opened up on her feelings of “shame and desperation” after detailing her battle with booze.

The BBC One actress used alcohol as a means to “escape” in an attempt to deal with the emotional turmoil of the loss of her father.

Jill Halfpenny, 48, who played EastEnders’ Kate Mitchell for three years, has candidly addressed her emotional battles in new book, A Life Reimagined: My Journey of Hope in the Midst of Loss.

Her dad, Colin, tragically passed away aged 36 from a heart attack while he was playing football.

She has also previously spoken candidly about the “unbearable” pain when her partner passed away in the gym in 2017.

In her tome the actress – who also starred on Coronation Street – told how booze helped her to “stop thinking.”

She wrote in the tome: “I began to see that I became a different person when I drank and I didn’t always like who I became.

“For a long time, alcohol had helped me escape, to stop thinking.

“Conversely, I thought it also helped me access all the things that lay dormant inside me.”

Jill, who now lives a tee-total lifestyle, then confessed: “It took a while to admit I needed help.”

She told how the turning point was attending an AA meeting in 2013 when she was aged 38.

She revealed in the book: “I felt a mix of shame and desperation as I approached the door but I took a seat at the back and attempted to take it all in.”Jill is best known for her role as EastEnders' Kate Mitchell

She added: “I experienced something I never have before – people, strangers, sharing how they feel.

“No small talk or pretence, just real authentic feelings.”

Jill had endured her fair share of heartache after her partner Matt Janes also passed away in 2017, aged 43, from a heart attack.

Previously, the actress told Line of Duty actor Craig Parkinson’s podcast The Two Shot Podcast of the ordeal.

She said: “Something happened a couple of years ago – I experienced something I’ve never ever spoken about.

“In January 2017 my partner, in very similar circumstances to my dad, went to the gym, had a heart attack and died.

“What happened was that it brought all of my grief from my dad as well; it was like dealing with a double loss – a loss I’d never dealt with.”

Earlier this year, we reported how Jill had happily found love again after her heartache.

Back in May, the Babylon actress admitted that she’d found love again.

Jill, who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, was quick to praise her new partner as her “cheerleader.”

In an interview with Prima Magazine, she said: “It sounds so cheesy, but I think Ian and I met at the perfect time.

“After Matt died, I didn’t know if I’d ever meet anyone again, but Ian is my cheerleader – I know I’ve met somebody who I love and who loves me.”

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