Who likes going to the cinema? Most of us, when we can afford it eh. In which case, you will have certainly heard about, if not yet watched, a certain DC character film. Now DC & Marvel films are normally about superhero’s & villain’s and their battle for supremacy. But this film is different. It looks at why this character becomes a laughing, unfeeling killer and leaves you feeling, or it did me, sorry for him. That in itself unnerved me, how could I feel sorry for such an evil man? But the reality is, that when you look closely at what moulds a person, esp a person with mental health issues, surely it should create a range of emotions, as that in itself is what makes us human.
In the film the character has a condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which is a type of emotional disturbance which causes uncontrollable episodes of laughter. Now as an observer if you see or hear someone laughing, you naturally start laughing yourself, but with pba, feelings of sadness, frustration etc can bring on a laughing episode. Which makes the ‘if you don’t laugh you’ll cry’ statement very accurate. But can you imagine, laughing because your scared, anxious, feeling unlovable, and as a knock on effect, everyone around you is laughing at you too. The psychological effect of this, must be so isolating and cut deep. Pba can also be as a result of neurologic injuries (which was the case in this film).
It comes to light, that his mum, had allowed him to be battered and abused, which understandably resulted in PTSD and left him initially with this childlike view of the world, watching but not understanding. One line in the film that really hit home to me, the cold harsh reality of mental illness was when he said to his social worker ‘your not listening to me, you never listen to me, all I have is negative thoughts’. Imagine, not being able to convey how you feel, and when you try, you are judged, mistreated and in his case beaten up numerous times, due to not understanding the psychological mind games of those around him. The only time he gets noticed, acknowledged or
appreciated, is when he commits some awful atrocity. What must that do to you???
I don’t have ptsd or pba, however I can relate to the sheer confusion of what’s right and wrong emotionally. As a 14 year old girl, I was molested while I was lying in bed asleep and like a lot of others, I completely froze. I remember feeling utterly petrified and thinking, if I don’t move or breathe, this will be over soon and it was. The next morning, I felt as scared as I did the night before, so I plucked up the courage to tell my mum, who understandable went ballistic, and battered the perpetrator, and that was that. No police, no discussion, no support, no nothing, life just carried on.
Why am I telling you this? Purely because it wasn’t actually being abused that screwed me up, it was the fact that my feelings were not even seen and the message I took from that, if your own parents don’t love you enough to see you crying, or console you when they do, it must mean I’m unlovable and warped inside.
That message stayed with me, until my 40s when I met and married my amazing husband, who from the beginning, vowed to show me how a man in love acts and took me away long enough to heal and find my own inner voice.
Having a mental illness, doesn’t give you the right to commit murder or even be unkind to those around you, but equally can we honestly say, that our day to day actions, haven’t had a negative effect on someone purely because we choose not to see the signs of distress. That waitress, who you refused to acknowledge while getting your coffee. The teenager following the crowd, scared to say no, incase they beat him up. The person sitting opposite you in the doctors surgery, trying to strike up a conversation, while you focus on the uninteresting magazine from last century or the mum in the playground, who holds her coat tightly around her, head down, even on a warm day. If we go through life, only focusing on ourselves, are we partially to blame, for mental health issues spiralling out of control?
Would love to know your thoughts