Boy Interrupted

This is a heartbreaking documentary from 2009 about a boy who was diagnosed with depression at age 5, then later, with bipolar disorder. The movie is as much about his family and friends as it is about him, but the main character is depression. Whether you know anyone who suffers from depression or not, you should watch this awesome movie.

Even though I’ve suffered from constant physical pain for 30 years, I don’t think I’ve ever suffered as much as this young boy, Evan Scott Perry. It’s stories like this that have convinced me that physical and mental pain are very much the same. And it reminds me how much DNA plays a part in mental illness, and that it’s not always caused by abuse or violence. It also helps me to understand why people who suffer from pain turn to drugs — and yet I still wonder which drugs really work the best for both mental illness and chronic pain.

This young man was on Lithium, and it obviously helped, but like many who suffer from mental illness, he didn’t like the side effects. And like many with mental illnesses, he stopped taking his medication. The psychiatric community would blame Evan’s suicide on the lack of prescription medication, but I think that’s only partly true. I understand Evan’s desperation — I’ve been there. I’m just not sure there’s a “cure” for that level of pain.

I salute Evan’s tremendous bravery in fighting his illness and the courage of his family to make this poignant movie. (And I’m happy to report that the closed captioning option for this movie works, unlike other youtube videos.)

If you are struggling with addiction or depression, it may seem like there are few options for treatment, especially ones that are successful. But, there are programs that are working, like this one:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/02/452658644/what-happens-if-you-try-to-prevent-every-single-suicide

And for a comedic look at bipolar disorder, there’s always Silver Linings Playbook, and I can recommend this one from 2014 (with Mark Ruffalo, need I say more?):

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1969062/

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3 thoughts on “Boy Interrupted

  1. What happens if you tell them you’re suicidal because you’re in physical pain? Do they not stop until they find treatment for you that works? I doubt it.

    At the VA, they tend to take depression a lot more seriously than pain. The VA has its own suicide hotline and many hospitals have a psych ward where they will take you in for a few days if you feel suicidal. But if you tell them you’re in pain, they treat you like a criminal and do everything they can to get rid of you. Every single room has that idiotic chart with the 10 smiley faces to rate your pain, and they always ask you to rate your pain from 1 to 10, but that is as far as it ever goes. They might as well be asking you about the weather. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the weather, with 1 being cold as Alaska and 10 being hotter than the Sahara.”

    I doubt we’ll ever see a video about someone with pain and the abuse and humiliation they have to go through in a vain effort to get it taken seriously. No interviews where the doctor says, “Look, we get a lot of drug-seeking scumbags in here complaining about their alleged ‘pain,’ and this guy had addict written all over him. It was his choice to deal with his problem or kill himself, and I am not responsible for the choice he made. Look, I’ll be the first to admit we don’t always get it right, but we have a responsibility to keep drugs off the street where they can kill kids. I’m not going to hand out 10 Vicodin to just anyone so he can sell it to school kids Did I mention we are not being reimbursed enough to do this job?”

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