"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Friday, August 5, 2011

Who do you Believe?

I hate scary movies. In fact, I make a point in life to specifically avoid all things scary. My version of "terrifying" is 'I am Legend' or 'The Sixth Sense' and anything past that, I have trouble even watching the trailer. After spending an entire childhood paranoid an ax-murderer is going to get me in my sleep and demons are chasing me up the stairs, and ghosts will be standing next to my bed when I wake up in the morning, and if I let down my hand off the bed a monster will eat it, and If i walk too close to a bed a hand will reach out and grab my foot, pull me under and eat me....you get the idea. I've finally gotten over all that (its about time) and i'm not about to retrogress back to that state of childhood paranoia. I remember having trouble sleeping as a very young child (under the age of 5 for sure) that someone was going to get into our house and my parents wouldn't be able to stop them and they were coming after me and there was no where I could hide. I mean, seriously, where does that even come from under the age of 5?  I should have just started with intense psychotherapy at that point and moved on.

Anyway, someone new in my life had the same childhood, terrified of all things scary. But then he learned to laugh at it, his mind learned to differentiate the movie world from reality, which I guess is what I have a hard time doing after scary movies   after all movies. So now, naturally, he loves scary movies, like 99% of guys out there. So he is determined to break my fear and slowly work me up to the scary as sh** movies like, "the hills have eyes", "the exorcist"...or....dare I say it..."paranormal activity".........*curls up in a ball*. I have my limits though- I refuse to do horror, aka people hurting other people...aka the SAW series. I will not ever do people with dismembered body limbs. Ghosts, yes, I can do that eventually, demons, sure bring it on, little girls coming out of wells? Absolutely, lets do it- teenagers with their heads spinning around? Awesome! But chopping limbs off in any manner and tearing guts out for fun? Never, ever. So thats where I am officially drawing my line.

ANYWAY, the point of this post....we are starting off small on this fear-breaking mission. Our first two are "SHutter Island" (which I actually have wanted to see) and "Zombieland" (this is more for a beginning comic relief than anything else).

I have kind of always been very intrigued to see Shutter Island. I knew kind of what it was about (psychiatric patients, the worst of the worst) and boy oh boy- I do that every day at work, so I wanted to see that aspect of the movie. But did things jump out at you? Was there exceptionally scary moments? I didn't want to take that chance, so I never saw it on my own. Until yesterday.

And it turns out....it wasn't scary at all! It was actually an amazing movie. It had a couple jumpy moments, but something is wrong with my reflexes lately....the jumpy moments happen and my brain reacts fast enough to tell my body there is no need to jump out of my skin like a lunatic. This comes in handy when my idiotic GPS consistently unexpectedly falls off my windshield in my lap when I'm going 70mph and I don't even flinch and inch.

But the movie is one of those that really get you thinking....Leo Dicaprio must have a thing for doing those, lol. But especially with my experience working with psychiatric patients, the really made me think more so than the average movie-watcher.

Since I don't think I can properly discuss what I'm about to discuss without spoiling the movie, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER if you haven't seen the movie and DO plan to, one day! PLEASE DO NOT KEEP READING, because it will ruin the whole movie for you!

Okay. So the movie ends and you're like.....what? I have to see the whole thing over again to fully grasp what the heck just happened in the last two hours. The whole first 3/4 of the movie, you (the audience) firmly believes that Leo is a cop, sent to this psychiatric island to help solve a missing patient-case. About half way through we learn that he has to get off this island immediately, before they find a way to claim him as psychiatric and keep him on the island forever, doing experiments on his brain like the rest of the crazies he meets. So the whole first 3/4 you are rooting for this character, you are worried about him and you want him to get off the island successfully before they "get him". Then the plot starts to unravel and you see how the island is starting to make him go crazy, he starts to hallucinate, have intense dreams, tremors, odd flashbacks, PTSD, etc. But the audience is still under the belief that he is a cop and this is unfortunately happening to him, the island is bad and the island is winning. Then you, the audience , start doubting who to believe at all. Leo gives such a remarkable stunning performance that leads you down the rabbit hole, and all the sudden you find yourself rooting for not only (now insane) Leo, but for all  the psychiatric patients he meets, and you start really believing what they have to say, rather than the common sense coming from the island officials. You start becoming paranoid (like a psychiatric patient would) that all the things these employees are saying, no matter how helpful and genuine, is fake. Nothing is real, they are all there to hurt you. Leo brings you to the psychiatric world with such reality, you start to believe everything Leo believes.

Eventually, they make him so crazy that eventually he believes it himself. You, the audience, start to wonder, wait- who do I believe? Did the island make him crazy or was he crazy all along? Suddenly you realize- he is the one thats been crazy all along and you have totally just been mindf*cked by Martin Scorsese. In fact, he is the most dangerous, delusional patient on the island and somehow everything you thought you believed is now not true and you have to go see the movie again. It is unbelievable.

But it really got me thinking....there is this one scene in the movie that really, really made so much sense to me. For those of you that are still reading and have seen the movie, its the cave-scene where he is talking to Dr. Rachel. Rachel brings up the very valid point that....who deems someone crazy? If those island officials wanted to keep you on the island and make you seem completely insane, they totally could. Its easy to do. And once you are declared insane, no one ever trusts you or believes anything you have to say, ever again, no matter how valid. Employees that work with psychiatric patients don't believe you, they nod & smile because they don't want to believe you. Part of them doesn't want to be caught swept under down the rabbit hole. Who to trust, who is right, who do you believe? If something a psych patient says makes sense, you suddenly find yourself doubting your own sanity and you worry, which shouldn't happen, but it does. Its unfortunate- the lives that even the mildly insane live. Even if you spend a week in a psych unit for a minor breakdown, your reputation is forever tainted. Psychiatric patients all around the world are abused because who believes them if they come out and make allegations  anyway? Everything is just blamed on the insanity. Its horrific.

So thats my schpeel. All in all, it was one of the best movies I've ever seen. It hit especially home to me, as so much of it reminded me of my own job, and it really got me thinking not just about the movie but how I will forever see psych patients in a new way for the rest of my life. It will always be a constant struggle of not falling down the rabbit hole vs. trying to find some reality, reliability and validity in what your psychiatric patients tell you.  If a psychiatric patient tells you someone hit them, do you believe them or do you blame it on the insanity, delusion, and manipulation? Who do you believe?

If you read this far and didn't listen to me and didnt see the movie....first of all- I am mad at you, but second of all- go see it now. Or don't, because now you know the whole twist. SHouldn't have kept reading.....

~A writer in a Nurse's body

PS- Naturally, the preview twists the movie to make it seem a LOT scarier than it is. Funny how trailers work like that.


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