Alison Peebles (Actress)
A short documentary where Alison Peebles, actress, discusses coming to terms with her multiple sclerosis.
Alison has directed, and acted in, plays for many years. But, for the past six years has, in her own words, been leading a double-life. She has MS, but hasn’t told anyone, not even her mother. Alison has kept her condition secret as she fears a backlash! She may not get any work, her friends may desert her.
Alison does not think about her condition in medical terms, only in terms of her symptoms. These have worsened in the last year, she is fatigued, has difficulty walking, and her balance has deteriorated.
During the program she is seen trying to draw sketches, and feeling frustrated as her hands are not responsive. Although she does not acknowledge it, her speech is noticeably affected as she strains to enunciate her thoughts.
At one point in the documentary, she is filmed at work, acting a role in the Taggart series, where she has to climb a staircase. Alison becomes increasingly anxious, as she feels it is obvious she is reliant on the banister. After ten or more takes fatigue was taking it’s toll.
One scene, in the documentary, sums up Alison’s acceptance of her condition. She is seen sorting through her wardrobe and discarding all of her high-heeled shoes, which are no longer practical. Shortly after this, she is fitted with a splint, designed to help overcome the foot-drop she is experiencing. The splint can only be worn with “sensible” shoes.
Alison is directing a new piece for her own company and The National Theatre for Scotland. A drama about a woman with MS. The play is entitled SMMS, where a woman with MS becomes a dominatrix. It is the first time she has included MS in the theme of a play and she has not yet told the cast about her own condition.
The feeling that comes through all of the documentary, is of Alison’s concern about the perception of others. This may have stemmed from her childhood, as her father had MS and her only memories of this, are being embarrassed and annoyed with her father for his incapacity. A fact that fills her with guilt now.
Alison praises physiotherapy treatment by Chengsu Lee.