Yeats & Silver Linings Playbook…

A COAT
I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.
~ William Butler Yeats ~

In the last few days I have had a profound sense of clarity about my work and my purpose. I was born to walk naked, as Yeats wrote in one of my favorite poems. I was born to talk about the things people aren’t always comfortable talking about, because I want to bring these things out into the light of day, to reach out to those who may be suffering and have nowhere else to turn. I want to yank the stigma off of things and throw it onto the pyre to be burned away from things that cause shame where none should exist, and I want to stand up and say, “Look, this is who I am. I am flawed, in fact I can be one red hot mess! But I am also very gentle and very loving, I have dedicated my life to helping others because I have survived, in my lifetime, a whole heap of things that cripple others and have led far too many to suicide. I live with a handful of mental health diagnoses but I have carved out a life for myself that works for me and from which I am able to live and survive and even thrive and I want others to see that it is possible for them too. I am an outsider by society’s definition but a lot more comfortable and at peace with myself than a great many so called “insiders,” and by God I am going to stand up in the middle of this unusual life I live and reach out to others and say, “Do not give up, never give up, hold on, sit with me awhile, you are perfect, just as you are, craziness and all. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be alright.”

This is the work I have been creating. I have been finding my way into it in a kind of seesaw fashion, bobbing and weaving, afraid, and unsure how I could go about it and if I could go about it and then a movie changed it all. The movie, Silver Linings Playbook.

This has been something beyond any experience I have ever had with a movie, above and beyond the movie itself,  because of a discussion about the movie that took place spread over a few weeks on my three different Facebook pages both before and after I saw the movie. Let me begin at the beginning.

As you know if you have followed my blog for some time I am bi polar. I also have a daughter that is a psychologist. She said to me, after seeing Silver Linings Playbook that I really should see it, that she thought I would love it. I am also borderline agoraphobic and have a very hard time leaving the house at all so I had to wait until it was released on DVD. Time passed, I heard a lot of good reviews and from people who loved the movie and a whole lot of people said that I should see it. The movie finally came out on DVD and after a fashion I thought it was time I rented it.

I casually mentioned, on one of my Facebook pages, that I was planning to see this movie soon, and asked if anyone had seen it, and what did they think? The responses that I got shocked me.

Some people said they loved it, I expected that, and it’s not just that some people didn’t like it, that will always be the case, anything is a matter of taste, and preference, and I have certainly not liked things that were popular or that others that I knew loved, no, it wasn’t that some people didn’t care for it, it’s that quite a number of people said they hated it, one said it was the worst movie she had ever seen, another that it had upset her so badly she hadn’t been able to get over it for days, and still another that it was so awful she wished she’d never seen it at all. In other words it was one of those things that people seemed to love or hate with no middle ground. I was baffled. I was confused. And I couldn’t wait to see it.

A few weeks went by and last Saturday night I saw the movie. I-LOVED-IT.

Now, the actors were superb. Bradley Cooper was over-the-top fantastic. I fell in love with Jennifer Lawrence in her role and could see why she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Robert De Niro was, well, has Robert De Niro ever been anything but outstanding? But this was absolutely my favorite role of his ever. He just stole my heart. The whole cast was wonderful, the director did a fabulous job. Good job all around, but it wasn’t even about that.

What was it about (both the movie and the topic of this post)? The movie was about a man with bi polar disorder who has just come out of 8 months in a mental institution and the girl he meets who has a whole boatload of issues herself and their all-over-the map crazy, charming, unwieldy, confusing, delightful relationship. More I will not say because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. As to why I am writing about it, well, it’s because there are precious few movies that deal with bi polar disorder and living with mental illness in general that are done so beautifully, and realistically, showing not only the very real scary, painful issues around living with this disorder but also the fact that in spite of it all families can come together, people can love one another, bumpy roads can be traversed, and in the end the diagnosis is not a death sentence as in the death of all things about life that are wonderful if you happen to have bi polar disorder or any one of a number of other mental health disorders that millions of people around the globe are living with at this very moment.

It was, then, a movie for us, when there are precious few. And I thank the man who wrote the book, which I just ordered today, and the director, producer, and anyone who had anything to do with the making of this movie. There are far too few of them and none that I’ve seen to date that are this well done and give one, well, hope. It gave me hope. I have tears in my eyes now thinking of how that movie made me feel. But let me continue.

After I watched the movie, Saturday night, with my friend Noni, who had seen it before, loved it, and wanted to see it again, I asked her a question. I said that now that I had seen the movie I was even more baffled. What in the world was in that movie that upset so many people? I mean no movie is a perfect movie, and again, there is certainly the matter of taste, and we all have our own likes and dislikes, but the vehemence with which those who said they really hated the movie expressed their opinion felt all out of proportion in the face of the story of this movie and how it was presented. There was no bloodshed, violence, killing, sexual content, or any of the number of things that people usually find upsetting. Some people didn’t like the language, others thought the ending, in the face of the subject matter, was a little too tie-it-up neatly Hollywood ending, but those were just opinions, not people who said they hated the movie, and, well folks, it is a Hollywood movie. No, there was something more there. Noni hit it on the head.

She said that the movie was still the same movie no matter who saw it, and the different opinions were simply reflections of the people viewing it. Okay, we all have our stuff, and some people had some pretty strong stuff come up when they saw this movie, but again, the reaction felt wildly out of proportion for some of the comments. So I put it up on my Facebook pages again. I have over 50,000 followers on the three pages so I thought it would have a wide and varied audience who might read the post I put out and who could respond if they chose to and the responses were overwhelming. I wrote everything I have written here, essentially, in a shorter version, and this time I just nearly cried when I read the responses. And I understood.

Out of a great many responses only one said she didn’t like it because of the language, but we got a lot closer to the core issues. A lot of people loved it, but quite a number of people — and I thank them from the bottom of my heart — took time to write very long responses. For some it was painful because it hit too close to home, either because they have bi polar disorder or have a loved one who does and for some it has been a very painful and sometimes destructive element for those who loved the person and had to deal with all of the ramifications throughout their family. Many people wrote to say thank you, that it meant so much to them to be able to talk about it, that they were so relieved, and they shared touching and sometimes heartbreaking stories. Still others said that while bi polar wasn’t an issue other related things were and we talked about those. Inotherwords, Silver Linings Playbook became a catalyst that opened up a whole universe of discussion and feelings that had had nowhere else to go. The conversations are still going on as I write this.

And so I come back to the people who really hated the movie, were deeply upset, wish they hadn’t seen it, and my heart softens and I feel so sad. What is it that is hurting these people so badly? What are they holding back, what inside themselves is causing them fear or shame or a vehement casting out of the subject altogether? This is what I am getting at. Despite the fact that we think we are very enlightened and there are all kinds of drugs and fancy words bandied about in the mental health arena, it is still taboo, something to be embarrassed about. There are still far too many people walking around undiagnosed because they are afraid to deal with it, because they are afraid of what their families, friends, bosses, coworkers, or others will think of them. Will a spouse leave them, will they lose a job, and on and on. Unfortunately our brains are not seen like a broken leg in a cast. Everyone understands that. No, our brains are still, with all of the research and knowledge and libraries of books on the subject, still uncharted territory, a guessing game. I always wonder if the medication I am taking, that I must take to have any semblance of a peaceful productive life, will harm me in the end. Centuries from now will the treatment that we have today seem barbaric? I don’t know. After decades of therapy I was finally diagnosed as bi polar in my early fifties. I had been in therapy since I was 18. We have lost many people who could not bear to live with the pain of this illness. It is no wonder this movie caused a tidal wave of emotion in some people.

I am not here to ramble on about the mental health profession. I am grateful for what treatment and medication I have now that makes my life bearable and livable. My point is that whether or not you are bi polar there are a whole lot of people walking around feeling like outsiders and they are in pain. Maybe you feel like an outsider not because you have an illness but because you live with someone who does. I am writing this because of all the people who hurt so much that a movie was unbearable and caused them terrible pain. I am writing this because I want to share openly what it is like to live as a woman with bi polar disorder and further lives with it but has still been able to find a way to carve out a life that matters very dearly to me.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this is the answer to what I have been trying to come to terms with. What, in the face of all of this, can I do to help? How can I make a living to take care of myself, and help others at the same time? What exactly can I do, and how, and what form should it take? That is what I am wondering tonight as I write this.

Saturday night after Noni left as I settled in with the pugs and started to go to sleep I had to turn the light back on and grab my journal and pen. I wrote down one sentence, closed the book, and went to sleep. What I wrote was this…

“Henceforth there will be two kind of people for me, those who loved Silver Linings Playbook, and those who hated it.”

I looked at my journal the next morning unsettled by that blanket statement but I knew what I had meant. There would be people who got it, or weren’t bothered by it, and those who didn’t get it. (I am not referring to the people for whom it just wasn’t their cup of tea as a movie.) I think for me it was very personal because I have suffered a lot in my life because of people who couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more or different or better or whatever it was they needed me to be. And I understand. It is not an easy thing. I chose to create a life for myself that works for me, and it has been nearly fifteen years getting to this place, and it is a beautiful place, this life here at Dragonfly Cottage. My task, then, is to see what I can make of all of this, and I hope that the answer will come soon. It is time for me to begin this work, in whatever form it takes.

I too made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

Thank you Mr. Yeats. Here, take my coat. I don’t need it anymore.

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. I loved the movie too Maitri, for reasons similar to yours. I thought it was a very realistic portrayal of living with a mental illness both from the perspective of the diagnosed individual and his family. I agree that it probably triggered a lot of people in relation to their own unresolved feelings around this. Thank you for creating such an open forum for discussion!

    • Thank you Joan for your thoughtful remarks. You know it has been such a surprise and then created such intriguing and important conversation that I am infinitely grateful for having this catalyst to open up a discussion that I feel can have far reaching affects. It’s just so important and touches so many individuals and families in so many ways, people who feel that they have no where to turn, no one to talk to. I really want to open up a dialogue here and let people know that I do care, that their lives and struggles matter. It is my deepest wish, to be able to reach out and help others with my work. Your note here today was such an affirmation. I can’t thank you enough.

      Blessings and Love,

      Maitri

    • Joan, thank you so much for engaging in this conversation. I think it is so important.

      It tugs at my heart knowing that seeing the movie for some was painful, and yet change and growth don’t happen in a pain free environment. In my own life every day is a challenge, and none are what I would call easy, but I am grateful for every single one. No one has an easy life, and that’s not the point. We’re not here to figure out how to have an easy life, we’re here to learn how to handle what comes to us with as much grace as we can muster, and keep moving forward through it all. And yes, there will be times of moving forward, and then we may fall back a few steps, but as long as we keep the forward momentum going overall we are headed in the right direction.

      It means the world to me that you took the time to write here, more than you could possibly know. I send you love and blessings from me, here, at Dragonfly Cottage, and wish you peace and joy on your journey…

      Maitri

  2. I just read the ebook. I think it is fabulous. I am so happy you were able to put your heart in your writings. Life is hard. The direction you are taking allows you to make huge contributions to yourself and to the world. I am humbled by your honesty and I wish you well. I will continue reading your blog and posts and I am honored that you shared your personal journey with me and the world. God Bless you on Your Journey because you are not alone and you will not walk it alone. God Bless

  3. Ha Joan! I just realized I answered you twice! I was going to remove one but I guess I’ll leave them both. Everything happens for a reason. I can’t believe I did this! Thanks for inspiring me! 🙂

    Maitri

  4. Viv, thank you SO much for the feedback on the eBook, it means so much for me to hear…

    You know, you create these little books and then float them out to the world and hope that they will arrive safely, will have some relevance, may even help and heal. But once they have set sail into the world they are on their own journey and we, those who gave birth to them, seldom hear if and where they have landed and how they have been received. Your comment just lit me up like a Christmas tree and I can’t thank you enough dearheart.

    And thank you for the blessings for my journey, I shall gather them in and let them nourish me through the days and they do nourish, and uplift, and support. Thank you, again, so much.

    Blessings to you dear one, and love,

    Maitri

  5. I am so glad you loved this movie. Our film society showed it in our small city of Kelowna, British Columbia (about 150,000 within the urban radius). The small theatre that shows a fair number of films outside the adventure/thriller genres showed it. We missed it at the series but caught it at the other theatre and were so happy friends told us, “Don’t miss!!!” Friends with bipolar children said, “Must see!” Friends with bipolar spouses said, “You’ll understand better.” But I was still wondering what you would think of the movie. I value your judgments.

  6. Oh Cathryn honey I just loved it…

    Bi Polar disorder is so misunderstood and it is such a difficult thing TO understand because as a spectrum disorder you can know 10 different people with the disorder and it manifests differently in all of them. I am probably the opposite of the Bradley Cooper character as I withdraw and get very quiet and deeply depressed which is characteristic of Bi Polar type 2. But I know how to take care of myself and I know that it will pass.

    The thing is, the most important thing for me about the movie, was that yes, these were characters who were going to have serious challenges for life, but they can be manageable with good care, understanding, love, and most important that being bi polar is not a “death sentence” in the respect of death to all things good in life. I live a life very much outside the norm but it works for me. You have to make a conscious choice and then work hard to take care of yourself but so much is still possible.

    I just loved that movie so much. I don’t buy many movies but I am thinking about buying this one. I loved the bonus features afterward showing Bradley Cooper going to talk to groups about this and how so many people were so deeply grateful and helped in so many ways. Such an important movie on so many levels…

    Blessings to you dearheart. I will be updating the blog shortly with an entry dealing with a bi polar difficult day that I had yesterday and how I managed it gently and have come through again, as I know I can. That is the key, people need to know that they can.

    With much love,

    Maitri

  7. Hey I am going to try and answer your qusntioes in the same order you asked them..MILD DEPRESSION:Because this is only the mild form of the disorder, the symptoms are not very severe. Sufferer may carry on with their normal lives, only appearing low in spirits and possibly less sharp in their thinking or in their interest. They may stop doing things they do not actually have to do, but will often continue with the essentials, such as going to work or carring for the family. However, they will tend not to be as conscientious about these things as previously, or will become upset because they feel they are not coping as well as they should because they feel too tired. SEVERE DEPRESSION:Severe Depression includes markedly depressed mood complicated by symptoms such as slowed speech, slowed (or agitated) responses, markedly impaired memory and concentration, excessive (or diminished) sleep, significant weight loss (or weight gain), intense feelings of worthlessness and guilt, recurrent thoughts of suicide, and lack of interest in pleasurable activities. This form of clinical depression is a dangerous and excruciating illness. The emotional structure of the brain has frozen into a pattern of misery that cannot be altered by willpower, a change of scenery, or the most earnest efforts of friends. In a sense, the brain has locked up like a crashed computer.BI – POLARPeople with Bipolar Disorder experience extreme mood swings that can take three different forms: manic, depressive, and mixed episodes. Symptoms can include both a lowering of mood (depression) and an exaggerated elevation of mood (mania). MANIC BI POLAR EPISODESIn a manic episode, some people with Bipolar Disorder may experience an elevated (extremely happy) mood, often described as feeling “on top of the world.” Others may feel very agitated and act uncooperative and aggressive, which can be frightening for themselves and others. Patients often report that these episodes result in consequences that must be dealt with after the symptoms fade.A diagnosis for a manic episode includes either an elevated or an irritable mood lasting at least a week plus three or more of the following symptoms: •Talking too fast or too much•Risky or impulsive behavior, like sexual promiscuity or excessive spending sprees•Needing little sleep•Being easily distracted (your attention shifts between many topics in just a few minutes)•Having an inflated feeling of power, greatness, or importance•Intense focus on goal-directed activity•Racing thoughtsDEPRESSIVE BI – POLARA diagnosis for a major depressive episode requires having a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in activities a person used to enjoy. In addition, four of the following symptoms must also be present nearly every day for at least two weeks: •Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (i.e., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite•Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) nearly every day•Feeling restless or sluggish to the point that others notice•Fatigue or loss of energy•Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt•Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness•Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal thoughts without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicideMixed episodesA mixed episode includes symptoms that are both manic and depressive. ABILIFY (aripiprazole) is used for the treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder in adults and in pediatric patients 10 to 17 years of age.Bipolar is verry different from clinical depression Was this answer helpful?

    • Veronica, I’m sorry for the delay, this was in the spam folder! I really appreciate you taking the time to write this all out. I think it is a good overview, but I also know that there are many subtle variations as bi polar is a spectrum disorder. I am going to leave it here in the comments because it does provide some good, if not hard and fast, information.

      No one can diagnose themselves or anyone else unless they are a licensed professional. I write about my own experience in an effort to shed some light on one person’s journey and to try to give others who suffer the hope that with a good doctor, medication, and a vigilant self-care routine, as well as carving out a life that works for them even if others don’t understand, so that they can live the best possible life, there is a way to have a life that can bring peace and fulfillment. This is not in any way meant to make light of the hard times or the fact that some people simply cannot function at all, but many of us can, in our own way, and for those of us who can, I try to reach out and give hope and help as I can.

      Best to you, and thank you for caring.

      Maitri

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