As someone who’s experienced Postpartum Psychosis who works closely with mums recovered from it & those going through it right now, I’ve been following the Eastenders story line closely. Here are a few thoughts on comments tweeted after the episode shown on 11th Jan.
I’ve been very impressed with Lacy Turner’s acting & how Eastenders are portraying (so far) such a difficult & complicated experience – it’s certainly no easy thing for anyone to understand, even for those of us who’ve been there. Even though I didn’t have a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis & my experience came out of the blue, I closely relate to a lot of what’s been shown. So much so, I’ve found it a pretty intense & upsetting watch.
But more upsetting than the horrendous, heart-breaking memories it brings back, are some comments I’ve seen on twitter over the last few days. Along with the many tweets commenting Eastenders need to take their Christmas decorations down, there were others said similarly lightheartedly….but these actually have consequences & huge ramifications for so many new mums struggling right now & for those who struggled decades ago. I started to question, is this what the majority of people really think but are too polite to say out loud in real life? Is this a snapshot of how the land lies for mums right now?
I won’t name & shame but here’re a few from the many I read. This is just a taster of what mums with Postpartum Psychosis, mums just like you, your sister, your aunt, your friend…have to face in real life every single day, when they’re more fragile than they’ll ever be.
They range from ridiculing…
“Who wrote this pls?, baby Jesus and all sorts *crying laughing emojis* #Eastenders”
“God the holy ghost” I’m really trying to not laugh #Eastenders”
“We have stopped using ‘Jesus Christ’ as an expletive. In our house, we now say ‘Arfur Slater’. #Eastenders #Arfur”
“WTF is #Eastenders on man? I know Stacey’s meant to lose it but that’s pushing it tbh”
“Lacey’s acting is soo good, but this story is stretching a bit far #Eastenders”
“#Eastenders the Stacey storyline I feel is a bit OTT bipolar is not really like that”
“Why are you tryna have formal discussions with Stacey. Just call the police and get her sectioned…#Eastenders”
“#Eastenders gave me a headache tonight. Keep the baby away from mental mum.”
“Stacey is now what I like to call, a mad fucknugget #Eastenders”
“Stacey, “Your Daddy’s on the way soon. He’s going to rescue us.” What a nut case #Eastenders”
“Stacey’s turning into a right Luney int she #Eastenders”
Is staceys baby the quietest baby in the world or what?!convenient seein as shes havin a crazy ass breakdown! #Eastenders
“#Eastenders pisses me off so poor shabnam has lost a baby struggled with things yet stacey has one and shes mentally ill so so annoying!”
And sometimes all three.
These are hurtful & very disappointing, but sadly not unexpected at all. The authors have no idea (or maybe they do?) how destructive they are for women & families everywhere, how damaging it is to marginalise an already marginalised group. They remind me why we do what we do & how important it is, vital in fact…to just keep going, trying to change attitudes by helping people understand.
I’m stunned the audience viewing ratings after the 11th Jan roof-top episode were 7.26 million, that’s an increase of 31.2% viewers, an extra 393k people watched. That’s a lot of people interested in this story line or if they’re not, at least they’ll hear the words ‘Postpartum Psychosis’ at some point…something I never heard before being struck with it.
Thankfully the negative comments are far outnumbered by the positive ones so I was incredibly heartened & reassured. I have to say, I breathed a huge sigh of relief reading the many tweets along these lines. If they’re your tweets, thank you!
“Never knew there was such a thing as post-partum psychosis. Impressive acting job by Lacey Turner in portraying Stacey in #Eastenders”
“People ask why they need to cover things in soaps, answer is clear people on twitter. Ignorance rife, compassion zero. #Eastenders #Stacey”
“Didn’t think anyone can get as bad in real life as Stacey did on #Eastenders. Shows just how many people out there needs support!”
“I think One thing #Eastenders showed tonight is that often people are completely oblivious when people have mental health illness…”
“Lacey Turners storyline in #Eastenders is heartbreaking. She’s done an incredible portrayal making more people aware of bipolar disorder.”
“Stacey’s shit on eastenders puts me on edge, it’s suprinsing how easy it is to loose your mind after having a baby #Eastenders”
“Finding it hard to watch this storyline play out as it is such a real representation of mental health. Incredible acting #Eastenders”
“Well done all involved in this weeks #Eastenders. Exceptional episodes, @JessieWallaceUK and @LaceyTurner giving stunning performances”
So within a format that traditionally over dramatises & sensationalises, in my mind Eastenders have done an excellent job so far, in not adding to the immense stigma already felt by mums with Postpartum Psychosis. We wait in anticipation to see how the story pans out in future episodes, but importantly conversations have already started & questions are being asked.
“Watching #Eastenders and wondering who on Earth should Martin have contacted? Ambulance, police???? Not a clue!”
And that’s really, really great progress, small ripples reaching far & all that…