What is it like to have an illness that might take away all your dreams? What is it like to have others look at you as weak and a burden because of your illness? What is it like to be a family member of someone with an illness that makes him or her different, that might even make them embarrassing to be around?
“Call Me Crazy: A Five Film,” a Lifetime Movie, explored these and other aspects of mental illness.
It aired Saturday night, and as I watched it and thought about it afterwards, I felt hope: hope that lots of people are working against stigma surrounding mental illness and renewed hope that people can live full and happy lives despite having a mental illness.
Thanks to Sunny at 71 degrees and Sunny, I knew about the film beforehand and planned my viewing accordingly.
The film is made up of five intertwining stories focusing on four people suffering from a mental illness and their family and friends.
“Lucy” is about Lucy, a law student who has schizophrenia. At the beginning of her story, she has stopped her medication and ends up in a mental hospital for treatment.
Lucy doesn’t have much hope for a normal life. She doesn’t think she can finish law school and help others, like she had planned.
Her doctor tells her to prove others wrong and go for her dreams.
In “Allison,” we meet a 19-year-old woman visiting home from college with her boyfriend. She’s upset when she learns that her older sister, Lucy, will be returning home from the mental hospital.
Allison believes that Lucy has stolen a normal family life from her because of her schizophrenia. She is also very angry because in the past, while hallucinating, Lucy tried to choke her.
Allison and Lucy have some honest conversations. While no grand resolution is reached, they both come to understand each other better.
“Grace” focuses on the young daughter of a woman who has bipolar. Grace feels responsible for taking care of her mom, whether she is lost in depression or acting recklessly during her manic periods.
Grace’s mother stops her medication and goes on a wild adventure with Grace and her friends, eventually scaring them with her daredevil driving.
After Grace proclaims that she is done with her mother and that she only wants to move far away from her, her mother seeks help.
Later Grace, writing an essay as part of a college application, calls her mother her hero because of the strength she shows in fighting her disease.
“Eddie” focuses on depression. Eddie is a stand-up comic who can make people laugh. After the show, though, he wants to be alone and sleep away the time until he has to go on stage again.
His wife notices that his humor has gotten darker and seems to center around suicide. When she discovers that Eddie has stopped seeing his therapist and has planned his own suicide, she is devastated.
Eddie comes home and finds that his wife has discovered his secretes. She goes with him to his therapist’s office, seeking help for his depression.
“Maggie” is about a woman returning home from war, suffering from PTSD after being repeatedly raped by her commanding officer, who was later killed in war.
She loses custody of her son after she attacks her father during a flashback, thinking that he is the commanding officer.
Lucy, now out of law school and working as an attorney, takes on Maggie’s case. Maggie is without hope. Lucy tells Maggie her own story of mental illness and triumph, and reminds Maggie that there is always hope.
She goes to court with her, arguing for help for Maggie so that she can once again become productive in society.
I found all of these stories refreshingly honest. While everyone’s problems are not solved in the course of the stories, everyone does gain a little hope. They seek help, they get help, and they begin the journey of getting better.
Some of them were hard to watch. It’s not easy to watch someone in the depths of despair, wanting only to die. It’s not easy to watch someone held captive by voices that tell her it’s time to die. It’s not easy to see a young girl trying to control her out-of-control mother.
I could particularly relate to Eddie’s story, especially his sense of hopelessness and the inertia that he feels.
I also related to Lucy’s sense that her recovery depends on multiple things, not just taking her medication as prescribed.
I applaud the actors, writers and directors and all of those involved in putting together “Call Me Crazy.” I think the portrayals of mental illness, and its effects on family and friends, will only help the cause of removing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
If you watched “Call Me Crazy,” what did you think of its portrayal of mental illness? And in general, how important is a sense of hope when facing obstacles in life?