"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Running the Film Backwards
This week's Blogger Idol topic is "Movies."
mood Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English mOd; akin to Old High German muot mood
1 : a conscious state of mind or predominant emotion : FEELING
2 a : a prevailing attitude : DISPOSITION b : a receptive state of mind predisposing to action c : a distinctive atmosphere or context
3 : in me, broken
[Scene: a conference room with a single long table. There is a projector case on the table and a whiteboard on one wall.]
[Standing by projector case, opens case, begins unpacking 35mm film projector]
This week's Blogger Idol topic is movies, and I have been wondering for a couple of days now how to approach this one.
[Plugs in projector, walks to other side of room and pulls down screen. Dims lights and starts projector. Scenes roll by from various movies as they are mentioned.]
The first thing that leaps to mind is to write about the movies that have a special place in my heart, or that have really impressed me. Movies like Streets of Fire, Phantom of the Paradise, Le Roi de Couer, even Moulon Rouge. Hmmm, interesting that all of those save one is musically based, every one is a fantasy romance... Well, I'm no movie reviewer, so I'll spare everyone my "vapid musings" on that topic!
[Scenes continue to flash by on the screen, this time focusing on particular characters.]
So, the next thing that pops into my head is to write about movie characters that have made an impression on me. Characters like Phoenix in Phantom of the Paradise, Columbine in Le Roi de Couer, Tarna in Heavy Metal. Well, sheesh, this looks mostly like a list of female leads in the movies above. Maybe we better not go here either!
So, I think a bit more. What should my post this week be about?
[Now the scene changes and begins to resemble a home movie. Scenes of family life and children playing. Scenes of family trips. Scenes of meals, of church, of walking on the beach]
I figure it's time to address my illness, then. I haven't done that "officially" in a Blogger Idol post yet. This seems like a good time, please bear with me.
Bipolar disorder, type I, rapid cycling. That was the diagnosis reached one year, one month, and one week ago although I had actually had it for almost 35 years. In layman's terms, think of the illness as meaning I have no top or bottom to my moods, and they often swing radically without any clear reason. And I mean very radically.
[the scene pauses on the image of a young teenager crying in his room alone, then picks up with more scenes of family life and people at work]
As you can imagine, it can be pretty hard to live with. But what does this have to do with movies? Plenty.
As a person with bipolar disorder, I've developed the bad habit of running the film backwards.
[walks over to white board, writes the following: "Event -> conclusion -> mood -> action"]
First, here is the way it is supposed to work. A "normal" person first experiences an event, then reaches a conclusion based on it, then has a mood reaction based on the conclusion, then takes action based on the conclusion and mood reaction. They find themselves being jostled in a bus, they conclude that the bus is over crowded, they realize they don't like being overcrowded, and they shift positions to make it less crowded if they can. Event, conclusion, mood, action.
Now, with a person with bipolar disorder, it can work backwards.
[erases board, writes the following: "mood -> search for event -> conclusion -> reaction"]
First there is the mood. It's chemically based and has no cause in the "real world," but it can certainly be as intense, or usually more so, than any normal mood. Then we search for some event that must have caused it, since we know that all moods must be caused by an event (which this one wasn't.) We make a conclusion based on this incorrect assumption. Then we react (usually wrong) based on that wrong conclusion.
A person with bipolar feels angry. They look for a reason, and since they are being jostled on a crowded bus, they conclude that the person must have jostled them on purpose. They shove back, hard, to teach that person not to do that any more.
Our film runs backwards. But life doesn't work that way.
[a switch is flipped on the projector. The scenes of family life and work that were running before now appear in reverse. After a moment of amusement, you realize that it just looks confused and jumbled and makes no sense.]
You can see how messed up things can get. This type of thinking can destroy relationships, marriages, careers, families, and even take lives.
And all because of a wrong habit we develop, based on a bad assumption, to cope with something we should never have to cope with at all.
[the film continues to run backwards, increasing speed]
The good thing is that once the genie is out of the bottle, you always know it is in there. Once you know that the illness can cause these things, it makes it so much easier to spot these moments and stop them before they get out of hand.
I'm working on that.
Yeah, it's hard to break a 35 year habit. So what. I've got to get this movie turned around, and I'm getting there.
[the film is now running backwards so fast you can't make out anything but a blur. Suddenly the film reaches its end and comes out of the projector. It spins, slapping against the spindle with each revolution. The room is still except for the sound of Slap Slap Slap Slap Slap Slap...]
It is with disease of the mind, as with those of the body; we are half dead before we understand our disorder, and half cured when we do.
C. C. Colton