Silver Linings Playbook & the Stigma of Bipolar

Silver Linings Playbook & The Stigma of Bipolar
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Film Review taken from Salon
Post Created with a short comment at the end
by jk the secret keeper
Posted 05.01.13

Bradley Cooper, star of Silver Linings Playbook, an Oscar-nominated film about a man living with bipolar disorder. His recent film is making progress toward removing the stigma of mental illness. I am changing the two words to Mentally Creative or Mentally Interesting. The medical community is trying to move away from diagnosing Bipolar or other issues with the brain as “Mental Illness.” They are Brain illnesses or diseases. They are not behavior problems or mental problems. Not should they be stigmatized. When you have the flu you treat it in order to get better. When you have Bipolar you treat it so that you have a better control of what is causing the patient to exhibit the brain illness. There are a variety of ways to treat bipolar as there are people that have that brain dis-ease. I don’t use medications with the exception of one. My thoughts are that you treat bipolar the way that is best for you. I try to work on what helps me keep it under better control. I am still new at it and not very good at following the ways that work the best. But bipolar tends to make you stubborn sometimes. That I have to work on, also. But to stigmatize anyone for having something they were born with or inherited or just woke up one day and there it is bipolar or any other brain illness. You don’t back away from someone with cancer or Parkinson’s or any other physical ailment. Well, bipolar is a physical part of you that is not functioning in a manner in which makes your life easier to live. by jk the SK

Silver Linings Playbook is a film that is a personal movie for David O’Russell and when the group all came together to do the film, it became a personal movie for all of them. Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, serves as a catalyst and she’s the first person who actually sees who Pat is. Pat is played by Bradley Cooper. That’s the thing that this film has done, people around this country who have seen this film say “this film actually sees who I am” because bipolar is heavily stigmatized, its not a very treatable disease and it’s a condition that is diagnosed way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will help it become less stigmatized in the onset. The best thing about this movie is that it will be able to reach out and make people feel included. ~ Bradley Cooper

“Silver Linings Playbook” with Bradley Copper

I watched the film last night. My reaction immediately was to think of a way to make a film, write the script for a film, where instead of the mentally creative or mentally interesting being the center and the ones stigmatized, that it wouldn’t be that way at all, instead those that are stigmatized are the folks we consider “normal,” they are the ones we feel uncomfortable around and they are the ones who are put in the outskirts of society and the ones who are stigmatized. If you think about it, those who have bipolar feel uncomfortable around people who are “normal,” those who think they are above those who have problems with the brain. Bipolar isn’t a behavior problem or a mental illness, which I find to be an offensive term. Those with bipolar have the fortunate or unfortunate DNA or the brain misfirings that cause some of the “bipolar reactions” the world has toward bipolar or any other person who is mentally interesting or mentally challenged. Why do “normal” people feel that they have any better a grasp on the truth of life on how to live it than someone who has been “blessed” with the gift of bipolar.

Bipolar is something that is extremely difficult to live with, where every moment or split second could change in your reaction to your world and the way you relate to the people around you. You can fly off the handle and lose your temper from a slight change in your environment. Is that really something to be afraid of? I don’t think so. “Normal” people have moods, also. Yes, bipolar, there are mood changes, the thoughts race around your mind because you have so many ideas firing off in your brain at any given time. Life is exciting. Creating art is a major benefit that can be quite satisfying and comes at one in a rapid firing sort of way. It can be exhilarating. But in that same split second you may find yourself triggered by something you are unaware of that pushes you close to the edge of falling into a dark hole. And most times, you aren’t going to be able to catch a hold of something that will keep you from falling in. It’s an endless fall, like in Alice In Wonderland, except she eventually reaches the bottom and there usually is light there. Bipolar, the lights have gone out.

Finding your way in the dark, when you are feeling nothing but pure tortuous emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain, is overwhelming and blinding. Eventually, bipolar will take you to the edge that starts the voices up that make you want to kill yourself or harm yourself. If you have found a discipline when you reach this bottom level like writing or creating art, you usually start that up immediately. And you keep writing or doing your visual arts until you create something that satisfies your opinion that you have succeeded. This may be enough to level you out temporarily and you then may be able to sleep. But even then, you turn on the Walkman with the ear buds in, so not to disturb anyone else with the loudness of your music. The loudness is so that you can only hear the sound of the music and nothing else. It doesn’t usually shut out the death march. That goes on. The thoughts haunt you but you must think them. Bipolar takes you on a journey until you fall asleep.

Hopefully by morning the feelings are under control. Of course, that sleep may take you to 15 or more hours from when you close your eyes. It’s the only way to get back on track. Most likely you haven’t had any sleep in the past day or two. The benefits are that you may not go down that road of bipolar. If you are fortunate you may go down the high one where what you create makes you feel giddy and everything is delightful and light and the demons are sleeping, which means they are leaving you alone. In that bipolar world everything is happy and you laugh and you want the classical or light music to play and you want to create the uplifting poems or stories or art. You want to keep doing projects, to keep creating. So why is the world so afraid of that.

Being mentally creative or interesting isn’t contagious and bipolar people as a rule could care less about harming anyone else except maybe themselves depending on the mood. The mentally creative have been given a stigmatic bum’s rap for the violence of those who take guns and go off on the innocent of the world. Those people are not doing that because they have a brain disease, they are doing that because they are violent individuals or groups that hate themselves and the people that are in their world. Bipolar tends to want to just take care of themselves and stay away from people that judge them. They may yell suddenly and then settle down and forget about it and may want to throw things when they get frustrated but mostly they don’t have any thoughts of hurting anyone and if they get into a down spiral it is usually themselves they are wanting to harm.

So stigma is all in the mind of those who are afraid of people being real and usually afraid of themselves being real. The “normal” people don’t want their reality being touched by anything that might resemble the actual behavior of someone who is alive in any way that might make them have to have a real thought or feeling. I don’t think “normal” people know what they are. Aren’t they usually following the latest dogmatic leader that tells them how to think and how to feel about someone they don’t like. And what about all those people that don’t want to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes because in their “normal” brains they think that it might be them someday who is rich and when they get there they don’t want to have to pay high taxes. I would say the “normal” are the ones who are a bit deluded and can’t think for themselves. And the ones who are bipolar or any other mentally creative individual are the free thinkers and the ones who don’t judge and the ones who want to help support the world and all the people in it.

Maybe it is about time to take a closer look at who the good guys are and who are the ones fucking up the world. And it’s about time to stop stigmatizing and showing people with mentally creative brains as a threat to the safety of society and to see them as contributors in the way of artists and those with original ideas who will move the society and culture forward. Yes, we may get off the path every so often but doesn’t everyone need to do a walk about now and again. Stop judging everyone and start co-existing in peace. Accept difference don’t try to make everyone identical to who you are.
by Jennifer Kiley

* * * * * * *

Friday, Nov 16, 2012 01:01 PM EST
“Silver Linings Playbook” is gold
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence face love and mental illness in the rich, manic new romantic comedy
By Andrew O’Hehir

We get thrown right into the middle of Pat Solitano Jr.’s troubled life story, without any of the usual context or background. Played by Bradley Cooper in a major departure from his customary sleek pretty-boy roles, Pat is the unhinged, overly intense and not always likable protagonist of David O. Russell’s manic, inventive and rewarding “Silver Linings Playbook.” When we first meet him, he’s standing in the corner of his spartan room in a Baltimore mental hospital, talking to himself. His mom, played by the terrific Australian actress Jacki Weaver, has shown up from Philadelphia to sign him out, against doctor’s orders and without having consulted her husband. What did Pat do that got him locked up in the first place? What’s going on with this family? Why do Pat’s wife and the school where he used to teach have restraining orders against him?

Answers to those questions won’t come into focus for a while, although you may rapidly reach the conclusion that the doctors were right and Pat would be better off heavily medicated and under psychiatric care. Back in the family’s Philly neighborhood, with its slightly desperate upper-fringe-of-the-working-class feeling, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) has no idea his younger son is returning home. One of the best and unarguably funniest roles of De Niro’s recent oddball supporting career, Pat Sr. fronts as an Italian-American tough guy but is more like a barely glued together mass of neuroses, a failing bookie with a penchant for disastrous side bets and an intense OCD relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles. (His wardrobe gets better and better as the movie progresses; I can’t stand football, but I want Pat Sr.’s Eagles-green cardigan.)

As for Pat Jr., whose apparel frequently involves a shapeless gray track suit topped with a black garbage bag – so he can sweat off weight as he runs – his first item of business is studying up on the high-school English syllabus his estranged wife, Nikki, is teaching, in hopes of impressing her at some unspecified future date. (Nikki plays an important role in Pat’s story, but almost entirely through her absence.) This leads, however, to Pat flinging a copy of “A Farewell to Arms” through a closed window at 4 o’clock in the morning, and awakening his parents with a maniacal rant against Ernest Hemingway. (He refuses to apologize, blaming Hemingway. Pat Sr. says, rather mildly, “Tell Ernest Hemingway to come down here and apologize to us in person.”) I can’t help detecting a genre commentary of sorts here, whether it originates with Russell (who also wrote the script) or Matthew Quick, author of the original novel: Hemingway was writing one kind of story, which purports to depict the tragedies of the real world in the 20th century and does not demand a happy ending. This is the other kind of story.

In fact, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a romantic comedy, even if it doesn’t feel like one at first. Furthermore, it’s a rom-com that succeeds in revitalizing that discredited genre where so many others have failed, injecting it with the grit and emotion of realist drama rather than with amped-up whimsy or social satire or montages of people walking on the beach while whiny emo-pop plays on the soundtrack. As he did with the boxing movie in “The Fighter,” Russell proves that you can breathe new life into one of the hoariest forms in the Hollywood lexicon. He takes a movie where everyone in the audience knows how it will end and makes us suspend our disbelief and fall in love all over again. (After an entire decade in the indie-film wilderness following his 1999 breakthrough with “Three Kings,” Russell seems to have found himself a niche reinventing classic movie genres.)

It helps, of course, that we’ve got a dynamite couple to fall in love with. Russell has long had a flair for unexpected casting combinations, but I really didn’t expect Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence to be such a combustible duo. (Yes, in real life, there’s a significant age spread between these two: Cooper is 37 and Lawrence 22. At the risk of sounding like a total sexist pig, it doesn’t play that way on-screen.) Finally getting unleashed from his immensely lucrative “Hangover” roles and a series of tepid leading-man movies, Cooper gives a twitchy, physical, marvelously alive performance as Pat Jr., who’s barely aware how poor his impulse control is and doesn’t seem to notice that his face is often marred with mysterious scars and bruises. As for Lawrence, she’s been in so many movies lately that she’s in danger of being overexposed but I only wish her chaste and cautious performance as Katniss Everdeen had one-third of the fire she shows here as Tiffany, a grieving widow going through a spectacular meltdown of her own.

There have been dozens if not hundreds of other movies about two damaged people who find each other, and quite a few that try to wring bittersweet laughs out of the painful struggle with mental illness. But it’s always wonderfully satisfying to see a conventional or archetypal story structure handled with this level of craft and enthusiasm. “Silver Linings Playbook” never feels like a movie you’ve seen before, even if Pat and Tiffany’s ultimate destination is clear the moment they meet. It seems clear to us, of course, but not to them; Tiffany assumes he’ll just be another entry on her long list of recent sexual partners, while Pat clings like a drowning man to the idea that his marriage to the invisible Nikki – which ended in an act of disturbing violence, as we eventually learn – can still be redeemed.

During Tiffany and Pat’s disastrous first date (which Pat insists isn’t a date, because he’s getting back together with Nikki any day now) they eat Raisin Bran at a diner while she regales him with steamy tales about sleeping with all her co-workers (male and female) at her last job. Pat isn’t literally wearing his garbage bag in that scene, but he might as well be. All the crockery ends up on the floor, along with the remnants of Raisin Bran, and we’re left with the realization that these two people are falling in love but may be too screwed-up to deal with it – a phenomenon that afflicts many of us at one time or another, from you and me to David Petraeus and that lady with the upper arms.

There’s no point denying that “Silver Linings Playbook” is shameless cornpone, given that the bumpy course of Pat and Tiffany’s romance includes such elements as a ballroom dancing competition, a crucial showdown between the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys and a parlay bet orchestrated by Pat Sr. that links the two. Not to mention a deceptive epistolary exchange straight out of classic French theater. But where most American romantic comedies are either made by talentless hacks or by Hollywood pros who can barely conceal their contempt for the material and the audience, this one was made by a leading American director at the height of his powers who’s paying attention to every emotional beat, every cut and every frame. Great cinema? Hell, I don’t know. But one of the most satisfying movies, that much is for sure.

ADDED NOTE BY jk the secret keeper: I need to watch the film again. Somewhere in the middle I thought the film was over and dropped off and came back before the film was over. So I watched the beginning and the end but missed the middle. My partner, Shawn, thought the film was great. What I saw I agree with her. Make a lot of noise in the middle of the night. So you get woken up by someone yelling and he happens to be bipolar. I don’t think that’s enough to threaten to someone that their behavior is going to get them thrown back into the institution. Only in America does one live under that threat if one is not strictly staying in between the lines. Freedom is another word for nothing left to shout about. SINCE WHEN. THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS TO SHOUT ABOUT. Why do we have to be quiet to keep ourselves from being locked away. I do realize, and I am not going to give away a spoiler, that the main character has done something that makes the law question his behavior more carefully but the extreme I think everyone takes it seems too extreme to me and especially in society those who are different in their brain and act differently. These are not the dark ages and those with brain problems don’t deserve to be treated as lesser citizens. GO RENT THIS FILM. IT IS A QUIRKY ROMANTIC COMEDY. THE ACTORS ARE BRILLIANT. JENNIFER LAWRENCE DESERVED HER ACADEMY AWARD AND IT DESERVED TO BE NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE AT THE ACADEMY AWARDS. jk the secret keeper

Whitney Houston — I Look To You

“If I can’t feel, if I can’t move, if I can’t think, and I can’t care, then what conceivable point is there in living?” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

“When you are mad, mad like this, you don’t know it. Reality is what you see. When what you see shifts, departing from anyone else’s reality, it’s still reality to you.” ― Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life

“Creativity is closely associated with bipolar disorder. This condition is unique . Many famous historical figures and artists have had this. Yet they have led a full life and contributed so much to the society and world at large. See, you have a gift. People with bipolar disorder are very very sensitive. Much more than ordinary people. They are able to experience emotions in a very deep and intense way. It gives them a very different perspective of the world. It is not that they lose touch with reality. But the feelings of extreme intensity are manifested in creative things. They pour their emotions into either writing or whatever field they have chosen” ― Preeti Shenoy, Life is What You Make It

“It was as if my father had given me, by way of temperament, an impossibly wild, dark, and unbroken horse. It was a horse without a name, and a horse with no experience of a bit between its teeth. My mother taught me to gentle it; gave me the discipline and love to break it; and- as Alexander had known so intuitively with Bucephalus- she understood, and taught me, that the beast was best handled by turning it toward the sun.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

“Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it, an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

“Depression is a painfully slow, crashing death. Mania is the other extreme, a wild roller coaster run off its tracks, an eight ball of coke cut with speed. It’s fun and it’s frightening as hell. Some patients – bipolar type I – experience both extremes; other – bipolar type II – suffer depression almost exclusively. But the “mixed state,” the mercurial churning of both high and low, is the most dangerous, the most deadly. Suicide too often results from the impulsive nature and physical speed of psychotic mania coupled with depression’s paranoid self-loathing.” ― David Lovelace, Scattershot: My Bipolar Family

“Compared to bipolar’s magic, reality seems a raw deal. It’s not just the boredom that makes recovery so difficult, it’s the slow dawning pain that comes with sanity – the realization of illnesss, the humiliating scenes, the blown money and friendships and confidence. Depression seems almost inevitable. The pendulum swings back from transcendence in shards, a bloody, dangerous mess. Crazy high is better than crazy low. So we gamble, dump the pills, and stick it to the control freaks and doctors. They don’t understand, we say. They just don’t get it. They’ll never be artists.” ― David Lovelace, Scattershot: My Bipolar Family

“Crazy isn’t a condition it’s a place and it exists somewhere between Love and Oblivion” ― Stanley Victor Paskavich

2 thoughts on “Silver Linings Playbook & the Stigma of Bipolar

  1. “Creativity is closely associated with bipolar disorder. This condition is unique . Many famous historical figures and artists have had this. Yet they have led a full life and contributed so much to the society and world at large. See, you have a gift. People with bipolar disorder are very very sensitive. Much more than ordinary people. They are able to experience emotions in a very deep and intense way. It gives them a very different perspective of the world. It is not that they lose touch with reality. But the feelings of extreme intensity are manifested in creative things. They pour their emotions into either writing or whatever field they have chosen” ― Preeti Shenoy, Life is What You Make It


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