Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Movie Review: Of Two Minds

Photo from Of Two Minds Facebook Page
I saw the new movie Of Two Minds by Lisa Klein and Doug Blush at the Cleveland International Film Festival this past weekend. It is a documentary that follows about four people with bipolar disorder over a three year period. One of the things I like about this documentary is that there is no narrator or scripted talk giving a certain idea or belief about bipolar disorder. Instead the film follows the lives of these amazing people and allows them to tell their own story in their own words.

In the movie you can see that everyone's experience of bipolar disorder is different. I find many people define bipolar in one way-depression and mania-but in reality there are so many other parts to the disorder and it manifests itself differently in every person. Some people were taking medication, some were not. Some had hallucinations, some did not. Some had symptoms starting in childhood, others started seeing symptoms later in life.

What was really important to me was that the movie shows the reality of the illness without sensationalizing it. They handle the topic with compassion and dignity. As someone with bipolar disorder, I was a bit apprehensive going to see the movie as so often the media shows us in such a bad light. I was worried I might see the film and feel bad about having this illness. I did not at all. It was an honest and understanding representation of what bipolar disorder is like.

I saw this movie with some members of my family and I think it is a good movie to watch together. It helps them see the illness from an outside perspective. It can open up conversation about your particular experience of the illness. It also helps other people understand the struggle to stay well with all the work you have to do around medications, lifestyle, work, etc... 

One of the things I hope to see in the future of documentaries about bipolar disorder is a bit more about how it affects your partner and children. Some partners handle the illness well, but many don't, and our kids have a hard time understanding it. Navigating how to have a healthy family in the midst of this illness is one of the hardest things about the illness, in my experience. I think it would help families a lot to know they are not alone. They need just as much support as those of us with bipolar.

One of the other interesting things I noticed is that almost all of the people featured in the film kept a journal. Journaling is really helpful for us, and that is why I started the Finding You program for people with mental illness. I don't hear this being talked about often as part of a treatment plan, but I am hoping more people realize how beneficial it is.

I am very grateful to the directors for taking on this project and to the wonderful people with bipolar disorder who shared their life, on screen, for so many years. I do not think there are enough people who talk about this illness and raise awareness about it. Bipolar disorder comes with the baggage of stigma and assumptions which all too often means society sees us as inept, irresponsible, selfish, and weird. This is not true. The movie shows that all different kinds of people have this illness and while we struggle, we can often have jobs and productive lives.

If the movie comes to your area, be sure to see it.


Rev. Katie

1 comment:

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