At the moment it feels like Stacey Branning is lurching from trauma to trauma. First, she finds out about a family that she never knew existed, then comes the birth of her baby at the Albert Square.
January’s episodes will also see her reeling from the news that her uncle Charlie has had a heart attack. And, all the time, there are worrying signs that Stacey is having problems with her already fragile mental health.
EastEnders has already announced that Stacey will be seen suffering from postpartum psychosis. And, in scenes to be broadcast in the coming weeks, Stacey decides to flee after coming to believe that Charlie’s death means that her own newborn is in danger.
Here, actress Lacey Turner reveals all about the emotional plotline and discusses her hopes that Stacey can recover from this latest ordeal…
So, how did you feel upon hearing that Stacey would be suffering from postpartum psychosis?
I’ve known for quite some time. When I came back to EastEnders I always knew the plan was to settle Stacey back in slowly before all of her stories come together.
What research did you do to prepare for the storyline?
We are really lucky that the team at EastEnders do so much research into these stories, so we knew that everything had been looked into. We were then put in touch with Mind, Bipolar UK and I met with women and their partners from APP [Action on Postpartum Psychosis] who had been affected by the condition. It was really insightful and I think it’s invaluable when you are telling these stories.
Why is it so hard for Stacey to speak to anyone about how she is feeling?
Stacey doesn’t recognise that anything is wrong. It’s an extreme psychosis and it starts soon after her giving birth, but those around her don’t notice the little signs she is showing – part of that is due to so much else going on! It then builds before they realise something is seriously wrong.
How does Stacey’s psychosis affect her relationship with the baby?
Stacey’s sole focus is the baby. Part of Stacey’s psychosis is her fearing that the baby is in danger, so she’s going to extreme lengths to make sure that he is protected. She’s fearful of those around her, so she isn’t telling anyone what she’s thinking and her psychosis is increasing. But at no point is the baby in danger.
Did you find it hard to separate work from home?
No, not really. Although playing such emotions can be draining, I know how to leave it at the gates.
How important is it for you to see the issue of postpartum psychosis tackled on EastEnders?
I think it’s really important that EastEnders tackles these issues. They have a history of covering stories such as bipolar, rape, abuse and the power soaps have is phenomenal.
Just looking at Shabnam’s recent storyline and the awareness that has raised really shows that not only are we creating drama, but we are bringing issues into the fore that raise awareness and creates debate. It sounds like a cliché but if we can help just one person going through this, then that is amazing. Soaps are a powerful tool that can really change things.
Now, can you give us a little tease about who Kyle is?
All I can say is that it changes Stacey’s past and present – I don’t want to spoil it, but when he tells Stacey who he is, she is thrown. At first it seems to make sense but then she starts to question everything.
Why has he chosen now to come into Stacey’s life?
Kyle explains who he is and why he’s there, but whether or not Stacey trusts and believes him is another matter. That’s all I can really say!
And how does Stacey react to Charlie’s death?
She’s devastated – she’s always been close to her uncle Charlie. He was there for her when things were tough with her mum, but it’s tough when Charlie dies. Stacey is going through a hard time, so she doesn’t take the news as she should.
What’s next for Stacey?
Stacey is going to have a long battle ahead of her, but she’s a fighter so I just hope that we can show the devastating effects postpartum psychosis has, but also that it’s treatable and that the vast majority of women recover.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.