There were quite a few things that came together and made Tuesday night a wonderful experience. One was living in Tucson where we have The Loft. It's a non-profit art house that celebrates independent and specialty cinema the way it should be celebrated. The second was the one night showing of the award wining documentary about Bipolar Disorder: "Of Two Minds." The third being that I was asked to sit on the Q&A panel with the director and a few others afterwards to facilitate the ongoing conversation about mental illness. Flattering and totally inspirational.
Watch this movie. If you have a mental disorder (many of us do) or you know someone who does (and really, all of us do) this eloquently filmed documentary is the perfect catalyst towards more exploration. Many commented that those featured tended to be incredibly eccentric, vivacious, and artistic. They wondered if those who didn't have those qualities were going to be represented as well. There are many who maintain more of the bitter downs connected to Bipolar (and we need to talk about them too), but my experience is (and many many many studies have shown) that there is a high correlation between brilliant creativity and "madness". There is even a conference about it. I loved that this film showed that.
The film also introduced me to Liz Spikol, a fucking fantastic journalist that is well known for her honest, candid, and hilarious representation of living with mental illness. I know I will be just one more email in her inbox, but she needs to know how much I identify with and love her. SO MUCH LOVE.
Most of the discussion following the movie came from those concerned about how to help a family member who has a diagnosis. This was a needed reminder that while I'm comfortable working within the world of recovery... there is a lot of knowledge and education that needs to be shared with the public. And in this way, I feel that this movie is a critical contribution. Bipolar is the conversation starter. The term may be flippantly overused, but there is something to be said for the fact that society doesn't cringe when hearing it nowadays. It's also considered by some a "contributory" illness meaning that while experiencing mania, people with Bipolar Disorder become inspirational and productive superheros! And that's viewed as a good thing, right? NPR covers this in The Unquiet Mind.
While it's difficult for me to isolate "one diagnosis" and not talk about the rest (seeing as the spectrum of mental health is completely nebulous), I was grateful for Doug Blush for framing such an emotional subject and transforming it into a brilliant work of art. The movie stirs people, and that internal motion is the first step towards change.
What are your thoughts on the best way to start talking about serious issues like mental illness?