Wednesday, 31 May 2017

My Favourite Films Which Accurately Represent Mental Illness

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I love watching films. It's definitely one of my few methods of 'self-care' I use to make myself feel better when I'm having a rubbish day. I like all genres of film really. I love horror and thrillers to distract me and give me that artificial anxiety, if you like, which I like because it's controlled compared to real anxiety I experience in panic attacks, which I have little control over. I love comedy's and Disney films to make me laugh, and I also love films about mental illness. 

When done right, films about mental illness can be fantastic. Mental health is such an important topic, which we all need to be talking about. However, sometimes you need to implement it within mass media to get people's attention. I mentioned this in my post all about TV and mental health, which you can read here. It's the same with film. To get people's attention and get meaningful conversations started you need to target what people know already. Far fewer people will watch a documentary about mental health than the number of individuals who will see a blockbuster movie, with a lead actor which focuses on mental health in some kind as a theme throughout.

There are a lot of films out there which really don't do mental health justice. They inaccurately display mental illness in some way which subsequently adds to the stigma. However, there are some films which do an excellent job. These films need more recognition and acknowledgement, which is why I'm sharing three of my favourites with you today. I hope you enjoy.


Dirty filthy love 
Not going to lie the name of this film makes it sound like an entirely different type of film, but I can ensure you it's not. In fact, it's one of the most heartbreaking but equally heartwarming films I've ever watched. Marc, the main character, played by Micheal Sheen, suffers from OCD and Tourette's syndrome. He's also going through a separation with his wife and losses his job. It's clear from the very start how much of a devastating impact OCD is having on every aspect of his life. 

He joins a therapy group where he soon realises that he is not alone, battling this demon within the inside of his head. You follow Marc through the highs and lows of struggling with Obsessive compulsive disorder but also going through the heartache of a messy divorce. 

Micheal Sheen does an absolutely terrific job of playing a man who's having their life ruled and ruined by OCD. They don't just focus on the stereotypical OCD, e.g., cleanliness and need for order. They cover the more taboo subjects which OCD can manifest itself around as well as habits which may seem odd to the majority but are in fact breaking a grown man in two. My eyes hurt so much after watching this film from all the crying. Both sad tears at how much I sympathised and understood the character but also happy tears at how beautiful the film is. If you haven't already, please watch this film.

Starving in Suburbia
Another film which had me in floods of tears. This film is one of the most accurate representations of eating disorders, in particular, anorexia and ENDOS, I have seen. You follow Hannah and her family, through her battle with the disease that has the highest mortality rate amongst all mental illnesses.What starts with a quick look on a pro-ana website quickly spirals into an all controlling addiction with counting calories, restricting her diet and engaging in other self-harm behaviours. You quickly see Hannah turn from a very happy and healthy dancer to someone with no quality of life whatsoever.

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The portrayal of what it is like having an eating disorder is incredibly poignant. The amazing acting and effects used in this film demonstrate the devil in the ear, the reassuring but deadly friend that is an eating disorder. You see how an eating disorder affects all aspects from a suffers life from friendships to relationships and everything in between. 

What makes this film, so unbelievably amazing is the ending. It is not expected in the slightest. All I can say is that it will leave you shocked. Despite being low budget, it does a phenomenal job of raising awareness of the reality of eating disorder. No glamorisation, just pure emotion and the truth. 

A Beautiful Mind 
If there is one mental illness that is hugely stereotyped and misunderstood its schizophrenia. I don't know a lot about the illness, it's symptoms and how many people it affects. That was until we studied it in my psychology class. My teacher mentioned the film ' A Beautiful Mind' so I thought I would check it out and let me tell you something, I'm so glad I did. 

This film is a true-life drama about the mathematician John Nash. Now I didn't realise this film was based on a real person. Call me thick, but I had no idea. Sadly John Nash passed away in 2015. This film documents his journey through making one of the most revolutionary mathematical breakthroughs, which later earns him a noble prize as well as this battle with severe schizophrenia. The way In which they portray Nash's delusions and hallucinations is incredibly clever. 

They don't make Nash out to be some crazy lunatic but instead someone who is just really struggling with a severe mental illness. His road to self-discovery is poignant. As you watch both him and his wife, Sylvia struggle, you get a real, tear jerking insight into the reality of living with schizophrenia.

I'm sure there are lots of other excellent films out there who portray mental illness accurately. It took me a while to find these three, I'm not going to lie. However, I'm always looking for new films about mental illness to watch, so if you know any, do let me know! 

Have you watched any of these movies? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading, as always X 

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7 comments

  1. I've not heard or watched any of these films, adding them to my list!

    Lucy | Forever September

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  2. I've never seen any of these films, but they all sound amazing! Dirty filthy love in particular sounds like something I'd love to see to understand more about OCD. One of my favourites is Girl, Interrupted, and the book for it is amazing too

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  4. I definitely agree with these being very relatable films. I watched A Beautiful Mind again recently; I often forget just how phenomenal the acting was in portraying a good representation of mental illness!
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  5. I haven't watched these films but they seem very interesting. Will definitely check them out soon!

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