Can Film Makers Capture Mental Illness?

School holidays, a whirl wind time for any parent but my children have flown the coop. Two weeks of memories, emotional provocation food for the shadow. Would it stay away this time? So far, so good.

Friday night, movie night, Netflix, who’s watching, arrow up, arrow down, arrow left, because you liked… My partner had the remote in hand, a boy thing. I stood in the kitchen thinking about a glass of red and eating a date. New releases, how about ‘To The Bone?’ Inwardly groaning, I agreed.

blinking shadow

Anorexia. The story is not new to me. I know it because I’ve lived it. Watching the film, I wondered did the film maker want to raise awareness of anorexia? Was there curiosity about the weirdness of the concept; someone struggling to put food into their mouth to nourish the body?

To family and friends watching their loved struggle with their weight, the fear of death is very real. I think this film hooked onto this point skewing their message. Was there a message? Eating Disorders are very complex, individual and personal. Understanding these complexities is keeping medical researchers employed. Treatment is only partly effective because we don’t understand the whole picture. Can a film accurately portray the shadow and its place in the lives of those living with this disorder?

It is harder than one might think. Everyone has a personal story. Although some common threads underpin the experience, the root cause is both essential and elusive. The film shook me up. In bed afterwards, the coldness rattled my bones.

My take …

For me, not eating, exercising, living the life of a restrictive anorexic for nine years; the thought that I could die did not enter my head. Neither did I at any point actively want to kill myself. This understandable fear coloured the viewer’s perspective, as I saw it.

Acceptance of the person’s choice takes treatment out of the boxing ring. The mother giving choice back to Ellen helped her to own her experience. My mother stopped watching me one day, I felt I could breathe; no longer between the slides under the microscope. The deception stopped. I hated lying about what I hadn’t eaten.

While the film touched on nurture, I feel it missed the point. Nurture is essential in anorexia. I would go further and say nurture is the root, accepting yourself and loving yourself. No one can do that for you. Friends and family can support you but as I have found over the past 37 years the path to self-love takes an ongoing effort.

It is possible.

The Butterfly Foundation’s view can be read on the link below. On the whole, I agree with the article but copycat fodder is readily available. How much this film may promote this I don’t know? Sydney Morning Herald 14/07/2017

The ABC looked at reactions to the film from people who had suffered from or were suffering from eating disorders. The verdict: a hung parliament. Read what others think on ABC online 14/07/2017

What do I think? If you are interested in EDs read up and maybe watch the film. If you have experienced an ED and are travelling well, watch it if you like. But do you need to revisit the shadow? Really? If you are struggling at present, take some time in nature, a forest or the sea. Only light dispels darkness, forget about the movie for now.

Need help, someone to talk to who understands, check the links below.

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