The current EastEnders storyline is not ideal, but EastEnders isn’t known for having positive storylines. There are other programmes on TV that have represented MS equally as dramatically. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
Depression in MS is real. Suicidal thoughts are real. Ideally the message would be that there is help and you can get support before you act on your feelings.
But I think it’s important for the wider community to know that MS is a really serious condition and can bring you to that point of feeling suicidal at times if the help isn’t there.
Representing the whole MS community
While I don’t think the storyline represent the vast majority of people with MS, it does capture what it’s like for some.
I can relate to being a mother and feeling like you aren’t able to care for your child in the way you want to. But I can’t relate to the pain that acting on your suicidal thoughts would cause for your child.
Also, the helplessness of the people around Dinah is a true reflection in my eyes.
Being on set at EastEnders
I went on set as an advisor. It wasn’t brilliantly accessible, but it was doable! I felt that if I was to have a fall (on the many cables in the studio) that there would have been no-end of people rushing to help me up!
It was a great experience being behind the scenes. I really appreciated the respect that the artists and producers had for us.
And Anjela Lauren Smith who plays Dinah listened to me talk about my MS, and was very open to suggestions and thoughts on how to play the role. She doesn’t live with MS, but the pain, distress and upset she conveyed was real.
Raising awareness of MS in soaps
More storylines featuring characters with MS can’t be a bad thing. As there are a lot of us that have MS and it's different for everyone, the character could never have been played in a way where one size fits all.
If MS isn’t quite as hidden and is talked about more, people will have a greater understanding and empathy of the condition.
Raising awareness means we are then represented in society as we should be.
If you'd like to talk to someone about any of the issues Dinah's story brings up you can call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email [email protected]