Cadigan was at once honest and shy, forthcoming and hesitant, pained and funny, paranoid and very well aware of his paranoia with great insight. The film depicts his journey leaving college after his first psychotic break to ending up getting electroshock treatments, to becoming catatonic, and then getting on Clozaril and recovering remarkably from his previous state (albeit also with gaining 100 pounds exactly like I did from my medication). He is an artist, and a very talented, productive one, but in the film he is unable to hold a regular job, although one could say creating a documentary is probably a lot of work. He showed his art at the Capitol Building Rotunda in Washington at an art show of artists who have mental illnesses, and that was one of the highlights of the film for me. The film also shows how he tries to maintain friendships with other people pained by mental illnesses, and how he tries to find affordable, decent housing.
I have to say I highly recommend this film, because if you do not understand Schizophrenia now, you will come away with a better understanding of it from watching this, and if you do understand now, you will come away from this knowing for sure that you are not alone in your illness. This statement also pertains to other mental illnesses like Schizoaffective, of course, and Bipolar Disorder. It is as good a film as Out of the Shadow, another documentary I bought a few years ago about a woman with Schizophrenia, made by her daughter.
I wish that people I know at work, or in my family would watch this movie sometime, and understand this illness. I wish these movies, both of them, were shown on PBS or NBC or ABC or CBS. Perhaps something similar has been shown before, but I haven't seen it. Thanks to the internet, I got to see these by purchasing them online. You might want to check your local library to see if they are stocked there before making this purchase.
One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time is write a book about my illness and how it started, and how it was to be floridly psychotic, and how I recovered from that state. I do not know if I'll ever do that. I want to do it, but for one thing, I waited too long to get most of my medical records from my hospital stays and they would likely not exist by now. So a large part of the record I would be needing to use is gone. I also lost all of my journals when I threw them into a dumpster years ago, thinking the Illuminati would be using them against me in a concentration camp. So I don't have those either. I might still work on a book, but the idea of getting one published is pretty difficult to conquer. I'm not sure I could do that. But we shall see. In the mean time, there are other books, some of which I recommend on the Frequently Asked Questions page at the top of this blog and there are films like these two, People Say I'm Crazy, and Out of the Shadow.
One of the hardest things about illnesses like Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder is that, when you're in the thick of it, you can't really describe it to people. You become too sick to even know you're sick. And you don't know you need help, or if you do, you don't know how to explain what kind of help you need or where to find it. They're very isolating illnesses, and a lot of people lose their lives to that fact. I hope that this blog, in some small way, sheds light on these illnesses, and that it helps explain what I've been through so that people who have been through similar things can know they're not alone, and so that people who have never experienced it can come to understand at least a little bit. I hope it has accomplished that much.
In the beginning of the film, Cadigan talks about symptoms, and they are so similar to symptoms I experienced, thinking that people were saying things they were not really saying, making threats to me with their hand gestures, and seeing things differently. He forgets to bathe and wash his hair; he gets depressed. He feels separate from the world, and he feels that people are out to get him almost all the time. I lived like that a lot. So it is important to me to try to help explain it, as he did with this film.