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ohjustchillin

Ups and downs in tv and movies

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Anyone else kind of annoyed at how bp is usually portrayed in tv? It's always a mania that's just the person being extremely happy and brilliant and super successful and then a depression where they just don't get out of bed at all and there are like zero consequences. Like I don't know about you all, but I'm usually either agitated and angry or depressed and angry. Basically I'm always angry, with barely any brilliance or happiness. 

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I've found that people on TV don't give MI justice.  From what I've watched, between some youtube videos and random things on TV, they don't make it out to be what it truly is ... and I think people watching take it with, 'oh, so that is it?  that is MI?' ... then start comparing people/things to what they've seen/heard ... which is mostly inaccurate.

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MI often isn't obvious, even when it's pretty bad; I've been suicidal and still trying to function, and I know I'm not the only person here to say that. Illness can be really subtle. 

A lot of mental illness happens internally (not that it's all in our heads, haha, but you know what I mean, I hope). That's hard to portray accurately on a visual medium. So you end up with dramatized, glamorized, overdone nonsense that gives a piss poor picture of what it's really like to live like this.  

Frankly, what annoys me most isn't that mental illness is portrayed badly; it's really hard to do it well. It's that mental illness is so often used as a plot point in the first place. As a writer, I find that if I have to emphasize something out of proportion to make it work, it is better off dropped from the plot, because it's weak storytelling

Edit: have mentally ill characters, yes, but don't make the mistake of making them primarily a mental illness. Make them a person with a conflict, just like everyone else. 

Edited by Mim

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7 hours ago, Go Ask Alice said:

The US version of Shameless has the most accurate portrayal of BP that I've seen yet.

But generally, I agree with you.

This is actually one of the instances I'm thinking of. Bothered the hell out of me. 

And why is psychosis never shown as part of bipolar disorder anywhere?

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46 minutes ago, ohjustchillin said:

And why is psychosis never shown as part of bipolar disorder anywhere?

I'm not sure why either, but I was thinking that psychosis isn't shown as part of Bipolar because I think it is more tied to the SZ and SZA disorders.  Just a thought, anyway,

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The main character in Homeland often experiences psychosis as part of her bipolar. Although I think that portrayal is a bit extreme if you ask me. I don't have bipolar though, so I could be wrong about that. 

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1 hour ago, Hopelessly Broken said:

The main character in Homeland often experiences psychosis as part of her bipolar. Although I think that portrayal is a bit extreme if you ask me. I don't have bipolar though, so I could be wrong about that. 

From the little I watched, hers seems extreme in the sense that she turned into a genius, which is ridiculous. 

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Part of me wishes that people wouldn't try to write such characters. Of course, I do not watch much TV at all, so what do I know.

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The worst was "The United States of Tara" or whatever it was.

It was godawful. Just terrible. I'm so glad they ended it. It should have never existed.

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About portraying psychosis, how does one portray it anyways? E.g. during the period I was very frequently paranoid and constantly hallucinating, the paranoia outwardly manifested itself as simply being terrified for no good reason every so often, and the hallucinations were invisible to everyone else, with me showing no signs at all that I hallucinated in the first place. The negative symptoms were more obvious, but still would have only been apparent if someone went to my home and saw just how much of a shambles it was in.

(All in all, no one even knew about the paranoia or the hallucinations unless I told them - and I only told my pdoc at the time - and no one went into my apartment so as to possibly know either.)

Edited by Closure

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Depends on the type of psychosis. Audio hallucinations, they seem to add background noise in the distance and make the camera vaguely travel towards said distance. 

Visual ones, depends what it is. And the character. Example, in A Beautiful Mind, his hallucinations are the whole scenery and made to appear like they are actually there because that is what he experiences. 

Other times they use faded out figures in front of, or behind the character, and if the character sees them as moving, they make them, most likely with a separate camera. 

Usually the character has a preoccupied way about them and a disturbed look on their face, and their usual productivity is fragmented. 

Regardless, its obviously not a real portrayal because you can't accurately portray psychosis. It is left to the director and camera person's perception of what the character is meant to be experiencing instead of what the character is supposed to be portraying. 

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I don't think agitation was shown but in Stephen Fry'a The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, there was examples of people displaying psychosis with mania; there was a woman who was crippled after believing she could fly and jumped out of a third story window. I think the better examples of mental illness shown on TV are done where an individual with the condition in question is presenting it.

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Part of it may be because bipolar can be very boring, especially type 2. Hypomania isn't very interesting, and lying in bed being extremely depressed is boring too. The subtleties of the disorder would be lost to almost everyone watching TV/film if they weren't embellished, which completely distorts how things are. Not everyone is manic or psychotic, and much of the turmoil is the inner disruption. I don't think there is a good visual way to portray the turmoil the disorder causes in the short time-span of TV or a movie.

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Not bipolar, but has anyone seen River (Netflix show)? Interesting portrayal of hallucinations/psychosis.

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6 hours ago, Southern Discomfort said:

I don't think agitation was shown but in Stephen Fry'a The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, there was examples of people displaying psychosis with mania; there was a woman who was crippled after believing she could fly and jumped out of a third story window. I think the better examples of mental illness shown on TV are done where an individual with the condition in question is presenting it.

That is a good point.

 

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21 hours ago, ohjustchillin said:

Anyone else kind of annoyed at how bp is usually portrayed in tv? It's always a mania that's just the person being extremely happy and brilliant and super successful and then a depression where they just don't get out of bed at all and there are like zero consequences. Like I don't know about you all, but I'm usually either agitated and angry or depressed and angry. Basically I'm always angry, with barely any brilliance or happiness. 

I totally agree. I have yet to watch any TV series or movie that really portrays Bipolar very accurately, and shows the grey areas in between. I'm always reading books that do a great job of describing different the mental states, dissociations, psychosis, the agony, use amazing metaphors, etc.....

Like Kay Redfield Jamison’s books (which I recommend by the way)...the movie inspired from her book was pretty bad “Touched With Fire.” This movie came out last year (with Katie Holmes). The psych hospital they were in was totally unrealistic (they were running around and meeting up with each other in the hospital at night), I found the characters pretentious, was hard to feel much empathy for them, having all the "brilliant manias". Overglamourized & over-romanticised (although this is the entertainment not a documentary I guess)

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I think they leave out psychosis sometimes because the general public doesn't understand it as a symptom of bipolar.

I get more and more... not angry, sorta upset, mostly disenfranchised when I see MI as a defining character trait on tv. It's something we live with, adjust to, maybe embrace but primarily just do our best to survive. My disorder isn't the reason my husband stays or goes every day. It's not how I keep or lose a job. Has nothing to do with graduating, celebrating, fighting, hurting. Nothing. I mean, sure, I've done some things I regret and am proud of due to all the fun symptoms, but those are mine. I have a history of behaviors and actions healthy sane people don't. But I just hate when tv is like "Oh, she's crazy, and that's why she's selfish, angry, horny, risky, irrational, brave, creative, strong, etc." I'm some of those things some of the time , becaue I'm awesome, not broken.

I think they leave out psychosis sometimes because the general public doesn't understand it as a symptom of bipolar.

I get more and more... not angry, sorta upset, mostly disenfranchised when I see MI as a defining character trait on tv. It's something we live with, adjust to, maybe embrace but primarily just do our best to survive. My disorder isn't the reason my husband stays or goes every day. It's not how I keep or lose a job. Has nothing to do with graduating, celebrating, fighting, hurting. Nothing. I mean, sure, I've done some things I regret and am proud of due to all the fun symptoms, but those are mine. I have a history of behaviors and actions healthy sane people don't. But I just hate when tv is like "Oh, she's crazy, and that's why she's selfish, angry, horny, risky, irrational, brave, creative, strong, etc." I'm some of those things some of the time , becaue I'm awesome, not broken.

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What about the movie 'Girl, Interrupted' ... Like someone said above ... the hospital was unrealistic for this movie also.  The people in the movie (the people with MI), they were in the unrealistic hospital, doing unrealistic things like all of them sneaking out at night together (don't remember what to do though).  I thought Angelina Jolie did a good job in playing her part, as well as the others did (though IMO not as much). 

What do people think about this movie?

Edited by melissaw72

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12 hours ago, 3xEmonkey said:

I think they leave out psychosis sometimes because the general public doesn't understand it as a symptom of bipolar.

I get more and more... not angry, sorta upset, mostly disenfranchised when I see MI as a defining character trait on tv. It's something we live with, adjust to, maybe embrace but primarily just do our best to survive. My disorder isn't the reason my husband stays or goes every day. It's not how I keep or lose a job. Has nothing to do with graduating, celebrating, fighting, hurting. Nothing. I mean, sure, I've done some things I regret and am proud of due to all the fun symptoms, but those are mine. I have a history of behaviors and actions healthy sane people don't. But I just hate when tv is like "Oh, she's crazy, and that's why she's selfish, angry, horny, risky, irrational, brave, creative, strong, etc." I'm some of those things some of the time , becaue I'm awesome, not broken.

This is a large part of why I prefer to hide my own symptoms - not simply out of fear of being discriminated against, but because I do not want to be seen as my symptoms, or more people's stereotypes of what they would be, as people would typically see them. I neither am particularly selfish/angry/horny/risky/irrational/etc. nor am I particularly brave/strong/creative/etc. I am me, regardless of what people would think I am because of my MI.

Edited by Closure
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