I saw “Of Two Minds” yesterday and think it’s a must-see for anyone struggling with or close to someone with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness. Those struggling can see there are various ways to deal with bipolar and come out the other end while those close to us can see how much of a daily struggle it is just to get through another day.
My girlfriend, who saw the film with me, asked afterwards if there was anything I felt I couldn’t share with her, am struggling with silently, or need assistance with. I don’t, but it’s actually one of the few times we’ve even broached the topic of my mental illness in that format. It was the first and only question she has initiated (vs. me taking about it) since I gave her a story I wrote about being in the loony bin to read before she decided to go out on a date with me or not about four years ago.
“Of Two Minds” is a documentary with lot of talking head action and footage of “real people” doing their thing. The film follows three main characters (real people) through approximately 2-3 years of their life and progression of their illness, most of whom where diagnosed later in life. Featured most notably were LA-based artist/architect Carlton Davis, a big bear of a man who deals with his illness with wry humor, medication and a wink and hearty laugh, and Philadelphia-based journalist Liz Spikol.
The folks featured in “Of Two Minds” are very functional individuals whose personality traits vary. Mr. Davis is full of laughter and a fun, artistic sensibility. He’s got a supportive wife who has been through it all, and the burly raconteur is bursting with really interesting, but sometimes horrifying stories from his days as a bohemian artist and curator in the downtown LA art scene of the 70s and 80s. He has some regret, but he doesn’t wallow in a pool of it.
Ms. Spikol, on the other hand, is a more than a bit self-pitying. She proclaims she will kill herself when her extremely supportive parents die and is endlessly helpless personally while very capable professionally. She doesn’t like to be alone, which is fair enough, but seems to use (and abuse) intimate relationships as a substitute for introspection–and perhaps in place of competent psychotherapy. She admits she’d definitely take the proverbial “cure” to manic-depression in a second it were offered. She apparently made a career out of being a professional crazy (as a journalist), but struggles deeply with being “normal.”
The other major featured subject, Cheri Keating, a men’s groomer/make-up artist following her dreams in Los Angeles was, in the beginning of the film, really struggling, with her illness and it’s ravages along with a newly diagnosed bipolar boyfriend. She’s a real and raw character, not as mature in years and not as experienced as Davis and Spikol in dealing with her illness. Keating finally comes to grips after being rejected by the last insurance company on earth to support her $600/month Lamictal prescription, by finding a complex natural way to mange her illness: vitamins, herb drinks, meditation, yoga, etc. She lives in a cute, quiet bungalow in the midst of lush greenness where birds sing and she pulls ingredients for meals right from her garden.
There are other voices and interviews, all, again, with highly functioning and successful people. However, the one person we’re not real sure about is Petey, Cheri’s ex-boyfriend. Will he thrive? Will he even survive?
Go see “Of Two Minds” and judge for yourself. If it’s not playing in a theater near you, ask your favorite indie cinema to screen it.