Heartbeat: Season 14, Episode 11 (November 21, 2004)
I’ve been a fan of this UK program from the very beginning, but lost the thread of the stories over the later years, due to family upheavals and my final return to Canada. I watch it on TVO now.
Last night’s episode repeated a theme I’d been discussing yesterday: madness (in this case, bipolar disorder, or as they called it on the show ‘acute mania’). This episode is the one before the halfway point of the 14th season, so it sets up the exit from the show of Jenny, the pharmacist at the local surgery, and Sgt. Merton, her husband. It is uncomfortable to watch, but it is quite informative as to what happens when paranoia sets in. And if we, the viewers, hadn’t known how devoted Dennis was to his wife, Jenny, her version of events would have been quite believable and he would have been in so much trouble.
The mind is a mystery to us all. When it’s at its best, a person can seem to be a genius. But when it slips out of sync with the rest of life, it goes down a rabbit hole (a la Alice in Wonderland). This must have felt like a stretch for Sarah Tansey, who normally plays Jenny with a winsome smile and generous heart.
Mental health (as the Newspeak calls it) is a strangely fragile state. Once it’s lost, it never truly returns, even though we all like to think that someone can be cured. At best, it is ‘managed’ by drugs and psychoanalysis, but lurking around the next corner could be something that sets the condition off again.
I wouldn’t wish manic-depression on anyone. And for those who are becoming anxious in their day-to-day life, remember to breathe, relax, and get plenty of sleep. Bless.