The movie was intriguing and the characters pulled me in. I enjoyed watching the crazy banter and it reminded me of a time in my mania that my sanity was drowned out by the fury and flourish of the illness.
I can identify with a few things:
The creativity: rap, poetry, art
Marco was one of the main characters in the movie who had bipolar disorder. It was great to see him rhyming and rapping impulsively. That is one thing I miss about being manic – the delightful ease of being able to freely spout off the creative rhymes and make that kind of poetry ad lib.
The symbol of the moon
In addition to the focus on the moon in this story, I could relate with the abstract fanciful concepts the characters were believing as their mania progressed. Actually believing the sun was their home and they were aliens here on Earth was a theme I could identify with. At different points in mania I could swallow most any concept whole, be it I was a character in the Bible or some prize from the cracker jack box was really worth a million dollars.
The treatment of the patients by staff and doctors
It’s a little frustrating to me how the doctors and staff seem to treat patients in the movie and in real life. I could really see similar attitudes from the doctor and they are a little condescending. Maybe it’s my perception based on my experience of being talked down to by staff and doctors because they are in Reality (real reality) and I’m in La La Land. Either way, it’s a fine line between having a better-than attitude toward the patient and just knowing the patient needs help because they are sick. I don’t know that I would like to be treated like I’m stupid (when I am really stupid in mania) or lied to, or ignored, but bottom line? I want to be believed. Believed as to what I say and agreed with, or at least listened to and heard. Dignity is thrown to the wayside when patients are treated like second-class citizens or children.
The sexual attraction
There is a fire there in mania when your heart is touched with the hypersexuality of the illness. I experienced the lust factor many times in this stage and my libido would easily be set off by playful banter with the opposite sex, flirting, touch or simple eye contact. It’s extremely hard to avoid and even harder to get out of. It definitely scared me the way I was taken with some and since I’ve been stable, I realize the root of my behaviors was the illness.
The lunacy: Thinking they’re in a space ship
Imagination is an untamable force in mania. Creativity is peaking and imagination is ebbing and flowing. I totally get the crazy plotting Marco and Carla do to prepare for their flight to the moon. When you’re there in mania, there’s so much passion and excitement and fervor about your grandiosity and revelatory ideas. You get caught up in the myths your mind has thought up and you act, well, crazy. This is fun for you but probably a headache for anyone around you…unless they share the same manic ride you’re on.
The restraints: physical and pharmaceutical
Though I never actually had to be physically restrained (I saw it happen to others), drugs were used to keep me tame. This is something I don’t condone. I think when all else fails I guess there has to be a means to repress the unruly and dangerous violence that comes on within certain circumstances, but as a rule this should only be applied as a last resort…like during an episode of the Exorcist. Pharmaceutical restraint is probably just as unhealthy and undignifying. Come on, have we not progressed from the days of treating patients like they used to back in the day? Give them space and isolate them – not in the isolation room with bare brick walls and a mattress pad. Put them in a smartly decorated environment (nothing that can hurt them). Give them a pillow to scream into, a couch to jump on.
I don’t speak to depression much because I only had an acute case of it at 16, but I did relate to the characters feeling sluggish and miserable, wanting to end their lives.
The sedation and stiffness when medicated
There is always side effects to any medication, however, like anything restricting and confining, there’s always a little wiggle room to move and breathe. I got used to my side effects on the medication I’m currently on – I can’t explain that other than the grace of God – and it is possible. Sedation and stiffness in the body are a side effect of some medications in some cases. I felt like a zombie at different points while the doctors tried to figure out the right combination and doses.
Last laugh: The humor in all this, relative to my own story, is that Katie Holmes plays Carla, and in my memoir I encounter Tom Cruise and get mixed up in a surreal melodrama of sorts, that includes Katie and their daughter Suri.
Overall, Touched With Fire was a solid movie and I would give it an A rating. I recommend it for anyone curious about the illness or who has someone close to them living with bipolar disorder.