Sometimes, life just punches you in the gut, gives you some Prozac and expects you to feel better.
I went to see Silver Linings Playbook with one of my friends. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s very rare to see a movie about mental illness that gets it right.
I’ve been mentally ill for a very long time, and was finally diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 14. Since then I’ve also been diagnosed with an anxiety and panic disorder. I’ve been taking medication for five years and I can’t see myself getting off of the medication in the foreseeable future. I’ve tried and tried but I need my medication.
One of the biggest challenges of being mentally ill is that people often see you as this odd little creature that is only a side-effect of their illness. These people (usually) have the best interests of the mentally ill person at heart, but they see their friend or family member as mentally ill and forget the person part.
That’s why I say Silver Linings Playbook finally got it right. The main characters, Pat and Tiffany, are mentally ill. But they are fully realised humans. Their mental illnesses are only part of who they are, and the story focuses more on the journey of Pat and Tiffany as people instead of their illness. And it’s a truly entertaining and realistic journey.
One of my favourite scenes is when Pat and Tiffany talk about the medications they’ve been on at the dinner table. I’ve heard of all of them and have been prescribed a couple. I was thinking: “Yep. Seroquel is a bitch.” It really amused me because when I talk to other mentally ill people and our illness comes up, medication horror stories are shared immediately.
Is it a perfect movie? It’s one of my favourites so far, but it does have its flaws (namely, the story getting a little, as my friend Jesse would put it, “schmaltzy and emotional”, and the dropping of a major theme halfway through). I highly recommend it to everyone, though. The “schmaltzy” bits still manage to suck you in and you already care about the characters at that point enough to forgive a bit of cliché.
It’s also nice to (FINALLY) see a mentally ill character in mainstream media who is not a serial killer. This is very much progress.
Thanks, Hollywood. Thank you for finally showing the mentally ill as people and not stereotypes or as shells filled with issues.
Just work on your portrayal of pretty much every other group and we’ll be golden.