I grew up watching the soap opera The Young and the Restless. It was one of Mom’s favorites. A couple of years ago, the writers of the show surprised me when they diagnosed one of their main characters Sharon Newman with Bipolar disorder. I was thankful and proud of them for taking on this illness, but I was afraid that the storyline would continue and they would never mention Sharon’s illness again. However much to my surprise, that has not been the case. Even today, they bring up her diagnosis. It is a small step, but I think it is a step in the right direction; a step to continue to educate others about mental illnesses.
I also was quite impressed with the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” which stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence released in 2012. I had seen the previews but didn’t know a ton about the storyline. That day as my sister and I sat in the movie theatre, we found ourselves fully pulled into the storyline. In fact, the movie was so powerful that I ended up downloading the book onto my Kindle the minute I finished the book I was currently reading. The book, of course, was better than the movie which usually is the case. But the movie didn’t stray too far from the manuscript of the book. I even bought a copy of the DVD when the movie was released. So if you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend you see it. Or if you are a reader, definitely read the book too! I think it will help you understand and educate you about mental health issues.
Media has a way of using mental health in a negative light. It seems that anytime there is something bad like a school shooting, media jumps to the conclusion that the person has a mental health issue. I am not arguing that that may not be the case, but if that is true, they need to get help. Mental illnesses are treatable. I think of an article I once read about Adam Lanza after the Sandy Hook shooting. The article was titled (if I am remembering correctly) ” I am Adam Lanza’s Sister.” I may not be Adam Lanza’s sister but I could be. In fact, many individuals out there are. They are someone’s wife, daughter, mother, sister, and the list goes on. In fact, I am a daughter….a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. Yet Mom has never let her illness get in the way of who she is.
Earlier this morning, I read a tweet that one of my seminary classmates and friends retweeted from Soren Kierkegaard. The quote is such a beautiful quote and I think it is so true. I think we need to take the time to show love to each other; to show love to those who have been pulled in by the darkness. Love, especially God’s love, has the power to overcome even the darkness of a mental illness. In fact, I hope that the media will follow examples like Y and R and Silver Linings Playbook or even Robin William’s death to remind us how these individuals are not defined by their illnesses, but rather defined by who God created them to be.
“When you fully enter the realm of love, this broken world becomes rich and beautiful, and consists solely of opportunities for love.”–Soren Kierkegaard