Lacey’s portrayal as the primary carer of her mother – who has bipolar disorder – is outstanding and one of her best performances ever was in last night’s episode.
Stacey’s tears as she told Charlie about how Jean was sent to a psychiatric unit when Stacey was a child were very convincing and choked me up too. I really think Lacey’s emotional but powerful portrayal of Stacey is very much underrated and there’s more of it to come as events with Jean come to a head this week.
And, in the wake of Fiona Phillips’ Dispatches documentary about the sufferers of Alzheimer’s and the brave people who care for them, I felt that Lacey deserved a pat on the back for so believably portraying how the lives of those caring for someone with bipolar disorder are affected too.
Granted, Jean’s condition is fictional whereas Fiona’s father’s illness is very real, but nonetheless, there are thousands of people who, like the character of Stacey, care for someone with this illness. And like most carers, they are the primarily silent and often forgotten band of brave men, women and all too often children, who soldier on despite the excessive demands – both physical and mental – that are made on them.
Bipolar disorder – which is also known as manic-depressive illness – is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in the sufferer’s mood, energy, and ability to function. It’s different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through and the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor social skills, inappropriate behaviour and even suicide, as has been spotlighted by EastEnders with the Slater family.
In last night’s episode of EastEnders, it was Jean’s birthday and despite Stacey’s best efforts to make the day memorable and pleasant for her mum, Jean cruelly made a wish over her birthday cake that she’d never had kids and she wished she was dead. Lacey’s depiction of Stacey’s hurt and upset was almost a palpable thing. Stacey has been dedicated to Jean all her life and has selflessly cared for her through her illness so to have her mum say those things was terrible.
And again, of course this is all fictional but I’m sure there are hundreds of people out there who can identify exactly with Stacey’s plight and – hopefully – will feel less isolated and alone when they see that this distressing condition is being highlighted on such a high profile show.
Gillian Wright’s portrayal of Jean is equally outstanding too and often, when Jean’s in a ‘manic’ phase, it makes me tired just watching her for half an hour so I can only imagine how wearing it must be to live with someone 24/7 who suffers similarly.
But as great as Gillian is as Jean, I really think Lacey’s rendering of Stacey is something extra special, so bravo to you Lacey!