Number One is bound to push a few buttons.
My thoughts on the first item listed in the blog link attached? I think it’s a slippery slope. Yes, these behaviors and actions can occur, but we don’t want misunderstandings. We’re trying to end stigma, so we must be careful.
So, let’s discuss Homeland. ~ 4.9.18
A popular Showtime series, currently in Season Seven, starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. A show filled with tons of suspense. An espionage thriller.
Too bad it’s also filled with a ton of misleading fiction about Bipolar Disorder.
Actually I should say up front, when they portray Danes’ character, Carrie Mathison, finally going off the deep end due to her manic episodes – that! That they get correct!
Here’s what’s NOT accurate about the character’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder. That it is in any way okay to stop taking medication. That there is any justification for it. That those with Bipolar are so gifted and brilliant, that if we’re the only one of us running in our circle of friends or co-workers, only we can solve the our little group’s problems.
It is irresponsible of this show to suggest that even though the heroine struggles, fails and hurts others, ultimately, it all ends up okay in the end. That it was necessary. In fact, Mathison swoops in and saves the day every time. No one else in the land of CIA, FBI or other acronyms can solve the threats faced on the show. Let me give you some idea of what it is I’m trying to say here.
At the end of Season One, we see Carrie choose to undergo ECT treatments because she wants to forget some bad stuff that went down between herself and handsome traitor/wait is he a traitor, Brody. She wanted to forget that unfortunate romance because, again, it’s gotta be rough not knowing if you’re carrying on with a married traitor. So, in Homeland’s thinking, let’s take advantage of what is most often a last resort for those of us with Bipolar, and yeah. Strap me down and zap me a few times doc. Loving me some ECT! I know many people with Bipolar. I have never known someone to happily elect ECT in order to lose memories. In fact, most often it is avoided because memories are wiped from our minds. Dangerous and misleading.
In Season Three, we think she lost her marbles again, and Danes is fantastic at showing us what that looks like, ugly cry and all. But we later discover that she purposefully quit medication in order to lose those marbles in a scheme hatched with her good buddy Saul, once again in order to ultimately save the day. She was outed as a Bipolar in Senate committee hearings, by pal Saul again, when he revealed she was an agent in medical trouble and experiencing paranoia due to the mental illness. The blame for bad stuff that went down lands on her. But wait. Later, after moves and counter-moves, we learn Carrie and Saul decided together that she would stop her medication – primarily Lithium – with the intentions of receiving blame for more things gone awry. Later, when back on a medication cocktail that is therapeutic and with sanity having returned, what happens? Yes! Carrie swoops in and discovers who bombed Langley! See? She had to go off her meds, right? Right. Only Carrie could have achieved that by discontinuing her meds and being thrown into another mental health hospital.
It’s going to be even more repetitive from this point further, so I’ll try to summarize a bit. She made it through Season Four taking her medication. However, what happens in Season Five? Right. Stopped her meds, heroically telling current boyfriend that when she spins out too far, he needs to then force her to take that med cocktail. So, here it’s important for me to say, if you ever try to get someone with Bipolar to take their medication while they’re in a manic state, good luck to you. We’ll either laugh you under the table or knock your damn head off. But hey, she stopped the meds, put a bunch of pictures and diagrams on the wall, and solved the mystery, like only Carrie can. Did I mention she sent her daughter to stay with her sister in order that she might embark upon this noble quest? Sigh.
Season Six – I promise we’re almost out of seasons – this is a season in which she took her meds. Yay! She’s acting responsibly! She’s learned from her mistakes. Only. Wait. No, again? Yes, again.
We’re sailing into Season Seven, and again, only Carrie can save the day, by stopping all meds, then buying meds from a dealer she seems to know, and has her friend tell her when to take what med. Sound familiar? Yes. Oh, and this friend turns out to be a traitor, too. Seems like she doesn’t make good, solid decisions off meds. (Funny, that’s how it goes in real life too, so we really don’t need Homeland encouraging discontinuation of meds). Oh, and yes, she’s really effing up with her kid. Neglect. Almost hitting her with a car. While Carrie is “coercing” a confession from that new traitor I mentioned – coercing as in seducing, we’re in the sack, all clothes off, about to achieve the Big O – the feds (I feel cool saying that) bust down the doors. Did I mention her young daughter is in the next room? Sigh.
After tonight’s episode, she’s still off meds and finally has become manic again with full-on psychosis, hallucinations and all.
So, are we just strolling down Homeland’s memory lane, or am I actually trying to make a point? It’s the latter.
Even though I have enjoyed most of the episodes from day one ground zero until now, I must say I hate how they romanticize Bipolar. Only poor, misunderstood, persecuted Carrie can figure out the answers, no matter if she hurts family, friends or herself, because eventually, everyone will see it was worth it. Carrie had to do it!
The danger for fans here is that not everyone is educated about the disorder, or mental illnesses in general. So, while I can watch and appreciate for entertainment value, others can get a false impression. When someone with Bipolar quits their meds, many, many things can go badly. And fast.
First of all, the body can go into shock. Seizures and even death. Secondly, once the meds are out of the system, one of two very dark things will most likely occur. Severe depression, or severe mania. Depression that smothers you down deep so far from anything good, any light, that often times a person takes extreme measures and tries to commit suicide. Conversely, if one becomes manic, a myriad of things can occur. Hyper-sexuality that often leads to extramarital affairs, over-spending and derailment of finances that can land one into tens of thousands of debt, hallucinations and hearing of voices that can cause one to hurt themselves or threaten others.
Most people who don’t know much about Bipolar seem to only know that last bit I mentioned. That is because shows like Homeland, with a huge fan base, play fast and loose with the truth. Most people only see a situation that has become dangerous with the Bipolar sufferer hurting themselves or others. A series that is viewed by so many does have a responsibility to air truths, even in fiction. The stakes are high.
For whom, you might wonder. Teens just being diagnosed and working with the doctor to figure out what medication best helps them, when they see this misrepresentation, many will combat mom and dad, rebel and be absolutely certain they don’t need meds. The general public that thinks we just pick and choose ECT and expect an effect much like what we see in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie in which painful memories can be selected and eradicated from the mind. All too often, Bipolars and those with Schizophrenia are the second to be blamed for mass shootings or school shootings, coming in just under “the terrorists.” Homeland could also speak to the person who is protective of their manic states. That might be hard to understand, but all too often, when we take our meds, we lose some of our creativity and sharper thinking. The medication dulls things somewhat. It’s a trade off; the lesser of two evils. We don’t need fictional characters promoting poor decisions.
Look, it is extremely difficult work to stay mentally healthy and sound with this disorder, and shows like Homeland can be an insult to us. We take our meds daily. We see therapists/counselors. We have families and successful careers. We are a part of our communities. We make sound decisions, something Homeland and Carrie Mathison do not.
As I close this blog entry, I glance toward the tv and scrolling across the ROKU screen I see beautiful Claire Danes in a Homeland advertisement. So perhaps I am actually talking about something timely and of significant relevance after all.
I find this hilarious. It perfectly describes and illustrates my personal experiences.
I’ve been thinking and praying.
To start with, I feel like I am a funny, intelligent, loyal, decent human being. I feel like I’m a good mom and wife, though I know that like most of us, I could improve. I’m a good friend. I think I’m a good daughter, even though that’s been a long, rocky relationship.
That word I just used, though. “Rocky.” I was thinking tonight and wondering why I have a few of those rocky relationships that don’t seem to get resolved over time. Problems begin that are not necessarily huge, outlandish arguments that completely sever ties, but are powerful enough to cause a lot of mixed emotions that just compound over time. We go along weary of saying something wrong to each other and causing hurt feelings, but then because we’re not talking, our feelings are hurt in that way.
I think what I’ve figured out is this. I don’t kindly, yet firmly, insist that when the initial problem arises, that is fully and completely settled then and there. Now of course, not 100% of a misunderstandings will be settled and put to bed at the immediate onset. Time is needed to think and settle, and both parties have to be willing to sit down and speak to one another from the heart. Instead of years worth of misunderstandings, avoiding the other, blaming the other, and/or blaming myself, it is my hope in the future to settle things early on, instead of trying to just get out of dodge when it first comes up, with mixed emotions flying all around me, and nothing truly being put to bed with peace and forgiveness found.
In the beginning, when I try to duck and hide, I say some stuff I want to say, though probably not in the best manner, and honestly afterward, I more often than not run away. There is no closure.
Now, I am a big believer in how receptive the person on the other end of the line is, depending on what I choose to say and how I choose to say it. However, if things aren’t settled sooner rather than later, bad memories/thoughts come to the surface any old time they want to, and I experience the same sadness I did when it all first took place.
I need to put my heart on the line in the beginning, ask how I can better our relationship, and share what I need as well. I need to discuss and sort, with respect to what each person can handle at that time, and feel forgiven and that I’ve forgiven them, and that we’re still loving family and friends and are moving forward.
Because I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel uneasy and sad. I want things to be better. I want to do better, and I want others to treat me in the same way. However, over time, if I try to chip away at it with gestures that are not reciprocated or misread, it causes even more pain, and honestly, things get all jumbled up like a ball of yarn you’re trying to roll back into place after the cat destroyed it. Sometimes you give up on that yarn and trash it.
I need to settle up at the beginning, so to speak, and put it to an end. I need to respect my boundaries and those of others, but I cannot go on dragging things out over long periods of time, all the while feeling angry, unloved, undervalued, insignificant, and somehow making the other party feel hurt, followed by a brief time of peace, and then boom!!! we are back where we started.
I need to say and do what I need to say and do in the beginning, because after all, I believe that most people want to get along with others and love them. I believe most people have good hearts and that they do the best they can with what they know at the time. I believe people can misread each other, that folks have bad days, and that as I misunderstand them, they misunderstand me. When I mentioned above that at times I feel anger…come on folks, really and truly, what is anger at its core?
I believe if all involved would try to remember these things and just speak from their heart with honesty and without pointing out blame on the other side (the other person) that there could be such peace and love instead of confusion and heartbreak. Most importantly, even if the other person doesn’t do, think, and feel as I just mentioned, as long as I act and love in that way, at least I can know I tried. Maybe later down imaginary roads, forgiveness and peace can be found. Time runs out so fast, though. So fast.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I lost my dad about 25 years ago. So yeah I know, my sisters know, my stepmom knows, that time runs out so fast. And when that time runs out, I don’t want anything left unsaid, and I don’t want someone wondering if I loved them, or not. I do. I really do care for the people in my life. I just hurt, and that blasted pain gets in the way. Happens to most of us, I assume.
I hope to forgive and be forgiven. In the end, it is truly that simple. Maybe I’ll get my courage up to make a phone call or two tomorrow.
So, had a few days of creativity and fun. Spent money I shouldn’t have. Luckily, I didn’t break the bank this time, and I only bought small gifts for my family. Still, that money should’ve been allocated elsewhere. Last night, I finally fell asleep. Hard. Like bottle of water still in my hand kind of hard. Slept for hours, probably 12 or so. I’m incredibly depressed and sick. I have an autoimmune disorder anyway, so anytime my system is attacked by mania or depression, I also must deal with physical illness and inflammation in chronic pain areas, such as my ankle.
I knew this was coming, during the hypomania and feelings of elation, I mean. Once it hits me, many times I have thought to myself that I forgot how bad this can, and will most assuredly, be.
I’m going to add photos of myself. I think its important to chronicle the whole shebang. I feel awful, and don’t want to minimize that in this blog. Also, I’m going to add a pic that lists quick definitions of mania, hypomania and depression that those with Bipolar face. If you’re not aware of definitions, things might be confusing. Additionally, if you ever have any question about something I’ve posted, you won’t offend me by asking. Will be glad to answer questions.