Mental health

Favored Expressions of Madness in Entertainment

art

Dear Readers,

As the topic of mental health continues to take progressive leaps forward, there exists much retroactive speculation on the undiagnosed mental health conditions of the famous and deceased. Indeed, the great composers, painters, musicians, writers, and characters of art history are often associated with an enthusiasm of the psyche.

My favorite book ever written happens to be on this very topic. Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is an author and American clinical psychologist living with Bipolar Disorder herself. She uses her craft to advocate for others, and explore the relationship between the ill mind and creative genius. This book had a profound impact on me, keeping me company on late night’s when I felt most isolated by my own idiosyncrasies. It is so dripping with content that you will take something new away from each read. Read on for more of my favorite depictions of madness in American culture.

TOUCHED WITH FIRE

GIRL, INTERRUPTED

I most enjoyed Susanna Kaysen’s telling of Borderline Personality Disorder in Girl, Interrupted due to its unflinching honesty and value as a time piece. Naturally, the literary telling of her story is even more profound and bizarre than the best-selling blockbuster film. It speaks volumes to the mental health climate in American Culture within the confinements of the sixties, and prompted me to begin my own journey through therapy.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Silver Linings Playbook remains a controversial piece with mixed reviews. I, for one, happen to love this depiction of mental illness in cinema. Above all, I admire that more than one illness is conveyed in nothing shy of imperfect glory. Bradley Cooper displays a character with classic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, and candidly demonstrates what it feels like for someone with this illness to be triggered by their environment. His love interest, played by Jennifer Lawrence, compassionately embodies Borderline Personality Disorder, while Robert DiNero offers a voice for Obsessive Compulsive and superstitious tendencies. This is one brave bold film, unafraid of exaggeration paired with empathy.

IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Keir Gilchrist beautifully embodies the anxious nervous breakdown associated with depression in this black comedy. I can deeply appreciate any portrayal of mental health that offers up a laugh without detracting from the validity of necessary intervention. Comedy serves as an excellent buffer between stigma and reality, revealing to those who may not always understand that we remain fundamentally the same.

RAIN MAN

A shining classic tale of autistic savantism and full-range emotional familial integration. If you haven’t seen or heard of this film, you now have some homework.

FIGHT CLUB

Ultimately my favorite movie and satirical novel, Fight Club offers a terribly clever exploration of psychology, insomnia, and a pervasive distaste for societal over-indulgence.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

In this timeless film, John Hughes exposes the inventories of five adolescents within the confinements of our public institutions. Painfully honest with familiar anthems, The Breakfast Club holds a mirror to us all and reveals the all-too-forgotten trials of what it means to be young in America.

For more on this topic, the following article from Kevin Redmayne at Medium.com features poetic portrayals of speculative BPD in Three Literary Characters with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Discuss: What are your favorite mental health stories in entertainment?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

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High Functioning: When Depression Gets Dressed in the Morning

Dear Readers,

As some of you may remember, back in 2015 I completed a 15-week Virtual Internship on an emotional support forum called 7 Cups of Tea. This afforded me the opportunity to mentor Members and Listeners through a peer-to-peer support model on all things mental health on an online platform.

(Excellent resource! If you would like additional information on this free therapeutic cyber-space, please visit the link or comment below.)

During this time I was also in mental health recovery myself, and took the time to share some of my personal experiences. Among them, was the epiphany of what it means to be “high-functioning” when you have a mental health condition, which directly lead me to the topic of outward appearances and the stigma so many face.

While preparing for my fifth psychiatric appointment, which took each and every one of my spoons at the time, I emerged showered, dressed, haired, and make-up-ed. My then-husband took one look at me and said,

“You look way too put together to be crazy. You should go in pajamas and slept on makeup.”

While dismissing my anger, my mind became illuminated and preoccupied by the visual representation of mental illness in society.

It’s true. More often than not it is messy. We are so quick to assume the homeless passer-by or eccentric widow must certainly be succumbing to some episodic behavior of the depraved and diagnosed. And yet- who is accounting for the high-functioning mentally ill, or those who may find themselves blissfully twirling through a period of normalcy?

What of those who protect their self-worth, fighting to emerge from the infamous blanket tower or the voluminous scribbling of unrealistic ideas?

What of those who are somehow able to stand on two legs long enough to advocate for their children, even though a bottomless storm is creeping beneath?

What of those who attempt to meditate with psychosis ringing in their ears?

What of those who experience mania in a not altogether euphoric religion or productive frenzy?

Most importantly, what are the consequences of this strength?

Natasha Tracy illustrates,

“So yes. I’m capable. I’m talented. I work hard. I produce stuff. Yay me. But the price I pay for that is not being able to be anything else.”

From “High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder” featured on America’s Mental Health Channel.

So, the next time you jump to judge someone’s capacity you might stop and instead consider the truths we all contend with. Consider the chronic pain manifested by depression, the smile of a co-worker, or the family crisis on line three.

EVERYONE has mental health. The true mastery is in balancing the chaos with enough self-care to allow yourself to function.

Just because you can pay your bills on time, doesn’t mean you’re any less sad than Susie-Q over there. Just because the voices in your head encourage you to swim in the ocean, doesn’t mean you can’t run your own business.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!