Sunday, March 16, 2014

Girl, Envisioned.

Hey friends! This one's a bit of a heavy one, so grab your Kleenex.
       I just finished viewing Girl, Interrupted. It has come on my radar many times, partially because it's a classic, and partially due to coincidence.

Before I go on, I do have to stress that there are many possible triggers in this film, and so if you have triggers of any kind, don't watch it. The film deals with very serious and very real issues, even if it is Hollywood. Respect yourself and don't watch it if you're worried you could be set off by something.

Moving on, the poster (one version of many can be seen below) makes it seem like a horror movie. Indulge me for a moment as I launch on a display of pseudo-knowledgeable-of- psychology expression.

         We see an image of a girl, her eye wide and frightened/surprised. Initially, we wonder what she's seeing, and then start to think that we probably don't want to even if we could. We see the title in an honest, "handwritten" font, and the poster appears to have been torn in the center like paper in order for there to be space for the title. Keep moving down though, and you see her lips. You realize that she's actually not afraid. If she was, her mouth would probably be open...even if it was a little bit, we'd believe her fear, that she was frightened. Her mouth isn't open though, is it? It's closed...almost puckered. This girl is in control of what she's feeling. So why are her eyes so open? Why are we a little on edge when we see the poster?
        Before we go into all that, let me tell a little about the movie in case you haven't had the pleasure of viewing it. Girl, Interrupted is about Susanna Klaysen (Winona Ryder), a young woman (probably 17 or 18 since we are told she had just graduated high school) in the 1960's who attempts suicide. She is hoping to be a writer (we're always going about making a good name for ourselves in the writing field, aren't we?), and so doesn't apply for university. She is constantly reminded of the fact that she is a failure (be it by parents, teachers or society), and is told by her principle that she is the only graduating student in her class NOT going to college. After attempting suicide, she is admitted to Claymoore, a private mental hospital for borderline personality disorder and the suicide attempt. She quickly realizes how well she is doing in comparison to her fellow patients. The film documents the ins and outs of her personal journey at Claymoore, and the relationships she develops (particularly with a long term resident, the sociopathic Lisa played by Angelina Jolie).
       Pretty standard set up for the genre, yes? Yes.
In many ways, the movie is predictable. One of the characters die, Susanna tries to escape Claymoore, and SPOILER, she gets out in the end.  But to me, this movie was more than that.
       I have been pretty up front with you guys regarding my battles with depression. I am this way not because I am seeking praise or hand outs, nor do I think I have it worse than anyone else. To be honest, I have had it pretty good compared to many. I had people calling me every day, asking me to tell them about my struggles that day and sharing a verse or two that came to mind when they were praying for me. I was on meds for awhile, and I had the support of wonderful people. Once, one of my friends LITERALLY pulled me out of bed (I was sleeping up to 18 hrs at a time at that point), shoved me into the shower and made me come to lunch with her. She knows who she is, and I am forever indebted to her. That's what friends do for those they love. I either cried all day, or felt numb and honestly didn't give a sh*t about anything.  I allowed myself to be used for my kind heart (I bought groceries for a couple of potheads I knew from class ALL the time...whenever they asked. I didn't realize how bad it was until I got called one night and was asked to order a pizza for them and I wasn't even in the same town! I rejected them, don't worry; I wasn't that gone), and I threw myself into a relationship that was never gonna work but I pursued it because it made me feel special...sometimes. Not everyone got to see me that way, not even family...but it happened. I was able to fake emotions most of the time, so I think most people thought I just had bad hygiene since I rarely showered.
      Watching Girl, Interrupted made me remember the times when I felt the things that some of the girls in the film talked about. I was never suicidal, but I understood a lot of the things that they talked about. For example:

"But I know what it's like...How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can't."


"Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word.
Dr. Wick: Do you know what that means, ambivalence?
Susanna: I don't care.
Dr. Wick: If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would...
Susanna: It *means* I don't care. That's what it means.
Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings... in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action.
Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
Dr. Wick: Am I sane... or, am I crazy?
Susanna: Those aren't courses of action.
Dr. Wick: They can be, dear - for some.
Susanna: Well, then - it's the wrong word."


"Dr. Wick: Quis hic locus?, quae regio?, quae mundi plaga? What world is this?... What kingdom?... What shores of what worlds? It's a very big question you're faced with, Susanna. The *choice* of your *life*. How much will you indulge in your flaws? What are your flaws? Are they flaws?... If you embrace them, will you commit yourself to hospital?... for life? Big questions, big decisions! Not surprising you profess carelessness about them."

                 After getting over the relief that I was never so bad I had to be admitted, I realized how much I have going for me. That, even if my life ended tomorrow, I would have lived a good life. I have traveled, I am loved. I am publishing a book, and am still not perfect. It's cheesy, but why live if you don't have things to look forward to? To work on and be able to stand back and congratulate yourself on a job well done once you are successful?

                 I often ask myself if there's something wrong with me. Why do I never finish goals I set for myself? Why am I still overweight? Why don't I have a boyfriend? A job? But I don't think these things make me crazy or not worth anything...I think it means I have a life to live; that there are things to work on and be thankful for.
                    Susanna Klaysen's face looks the way it does because her eyes have been opened to a new life, much like my own have been. I have gone from being a Girl, Interrupted to Girl, Envisioned. It's not fun most of the time, and I will never forget the battles. I'll continue to talk about them, whether you like it or not. I'm not here to please anyone's ears, and I'm used to being told that I talk too much or do not act the way I should. Maybe I'll mellow out in time, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll win a Pulitzer prize AND get admitted one day (I hope not, but stranger things have happened!). My point is, I'm grateful. For everything. I'm grateful for the struggle, and I'm grateful for the pain. It makes my the bright moments brighter, and the people in my life that much more precious.
 I'm glad Susanna got out...even if people thought it cheesy. 

We often go about our day being upset about something. Maybe someone hurt you, or you made a mistake that can't be fixed by anyone. News flash: You're not alone in that. Sorry that you're struggling, but you're not alone. Do me a favor and hold my hand. Let's jump off the Self-Pity Bandwagon together and ask: What I am grateful for?

Peace and Love, Friends!

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