SILVER LININGS AND MENTAL HEALTH
The recent movie, Silver Linings Playbook, based on the book by Matthew Quick, struck a chord in me. Why? Because my book CRAZY, coming out in 2014, happens to deal with the same subject–bipolar disease–and I was sufficiently entertained and duly impressed with how the movie handled this often delicate subject.
Patrick Solatano, admirably portrayed by Bradley Cooper, is released from an eight-month stay in the hospital with a determined, if not unwieldy, desire to get back on his feet. He faces a restraining order from his wife because he severely beat up the man he caught her in the shower with when he returned home unexpectedly. He now reluctantly must see a court-mandated therapist and take regular medication. If this isn’t enough, he is ordered to live in his parents’ house where his comically OCD father is running an illegal bookmaking business.
While the movie is billed as a romantic comedy, the humor depicts the often painful and embarrassing events surrounding mental disorders discreetly and realistically. In fact, many realities of mental illness pervade this movie: Pat’s reluctance to take the medication he needs, the existence of similar traits in both father and son, the gravitational pull that often exists between two neurotic/psychotic people (Pat and Tiffany, beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence), the benefits of physical outlets (Pat and Tiffany develop a dance routine and enter a contest), and the inevitability of numerous setbacks and regressions along the road to recovery, or at least stability.
While the happy Hollywood ending is both predictable and oversimplified, I applaud this movie for its depiction of two resourceful people with mental baggage who have the guts to keep working towards better mental health.
I hope when my book hits the stands in 2014 readers will be reminded that better mental health can be a real possibility for those who keep striving towards that goal.