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EXCLUSIVE: Celia Pacquola opens up about putting her mental health first even when she feels like it's "selfish"

What the future has in store for her...

It's hard to know exactly where Emma from Rosehaven ends and Celia Pacquola starts.
The fifth and final season of the hugely popular comedy series has finished filming, but Celia is still hanging out with Luke McGregor, who plays her best friend Daniel on the show and is just as close to her in real life.
"I'm seeing him this afternoon," she tells TV WEEK over the phone from her Melbourne home, hours before the latest lockdown was announced.
Celia Pacquola is an awful lot like her character Emma from Rosehaven. ABC
"I'm going to pick him up and take him to the dog park with me. He lives near me, so that's great."
Back in 2014, when Celia and Luke got chatting on the set of ABC comedy hit Utopia, they didn't know each other very well.
But they agreed to make a comedy series together that would be "just you and me talking rubbish".
Seven years later, Celia says she's spent more time with Luke than anyone else in her life, ever.
"Our relationship is very similar to our characters, because we just wrote what we knew," she explains.
"We're very different, but understanding of each other's differences. He thinks I'm funny and I think he's funny.
"And we fully trust each other. He knows everything about me in the world."
Like Luke, Celia started out as a stand-up comedian.
She got into acting more than a decade ago, scoring roles in Laid and Offspring, but it's in the past few years that viewers have really taken her to their hearts.
She's notched up a couple of TV WEEK Logie Award nominations for Most Popular Actress, along with a win on Dancing With The Stars in 2020.
Celia won Dancing With The Stars in 2020. Ten
Her willingness to talk about her anxiety and depression – including the "really bad mental health day" she went through on DWTS – has endeared her to her fans.
For Celia, Melbourne's long lockdown last year "sucked", even though she knew she was lucky.
"You flip between days where you're going, 'I'm healthy, I'm still able to work a bit, I've got a roof over my head, everything's fine.'
"And some days you're just like, 'Let me out! I can't take it. I just can't take it anymore.'
"Luckily, what really helped me get through was writing Rosehaven. It was just good to have something to do every day."
Unfortunately for Celia, lockdown brought an end to her relationship. She'd been going out with her boyfriend for three years.
"Oh, guess what happened? 2020 happened. He lives in Perth, and Western Australia blocked me for an entire year.
"I've been here before, so I'm used to it. It's fine. I've got dogs."
Those dogs are shared by Celia and her flatmate, comedian Kelly Fastuca. They've just had "glamour family portraits" taken of the four of them.
"It's our family. Jimmy Chocolate Chip is our firstborn, and Deidre Tiramisu Chambers is our troubled second child.
Celia at home with her beloved dogs. Instagram
"She's got neurological disorders and has seizures. They're both rescues [rescue dogs] and we love them very much."
Celia, 38, grew up in Victoria's Yarra Valley surrounded by not just dogs, but also cows, chickens and more.
"My father's an Italian," she explains. "He was a teacher, but also a labourer/builder, so he would do a lot of favours, like build sheds, and he would be paid with weird stuff.
"One time, he came home with a peacock."
Celia's lifelong love for animals has spilled over into Rosehaven.

She wrote a pig and a rabbit into previous seasons of the show, and an entire Tasmanian animal sanctuary into this season.
"Brightside Farm Sanctuary is possibly my favourite place in the whole world," she enthuses.
"If I fantasise about quitting everything and running away, that's where I'd go and volunteer."
But Celia isn't going anywhere just yet. After Rosehaven, she has a documentary about anxiety coming up on SBS.
She says talking to other people about anxiety and sharing her own story was "more full-on" than she was expecting.
Celia has said she fantasises about running away to volunteer at an animal sanctuary. Supplied
That came on top of doing SBS genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, where she learnt that two of her ancestors in the 1800s had ended up "buying or being given stolen land".
"It's been a very vulnerable time for me with all of these things," she explains.
"But if it does a bit of good, then no regrets."
Recently, Celia has decided to make her mental health a priority, even though she worries it sounds "selfish" to think she deserves a good relationship with her mental health.
"Like, 'I've got a job that I like – what, do I expect to be happy as well?' I still have that. But I think it might be possible."
Celia has opened up about making her mental health a priority. Supplied
Celia has shown she can pretty much do anything, from stand-up comedy to serious acting (she won an AACTA Award for The Beautiful Lie in 2016) to the tango.
But she's starting to realise that just because she can do a whole lot of things doesn't mean she has to.
"A lot of my 'doing all the things' and busyness has probably been a little bit unhealthy," she says.
"I'm trying to just sit back a bit more. It's not about, 'What's the next thing I'm going to do?' it's more about, 'Let's do something that I enjoy.'
"Or just try to spend more time with my family and friends and dogs."

Right on cue, a dog in the background elicits a squeak from a squeaky toy.
"That was super-cute, Deidre. Good girl!" Celia says with a laugh.
She's keen to take a holiday with Luke, when overseas travel becomes possible again.
"I'd love to go to Japan with Luke," she says. "Now, I've got a couple of pups who have to get to the park."
If this article has raised any issues for you please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or visit there website here

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