Narrative War

My imagination was captured by Bryan Stevenson’s work and ideas once I read his book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  I was thrilled when HBO developed a documentary following his story.  Fortunately, I was able to view it free of charge on their website (limited time, of course).  I stayed up till the wee hours the other night, watching it once the kids were finally in bed, sobbing in silence on the couch.  The stories Stevenson tells of his people, of the people wronged by this nation are so raw and real and ones, as he says, that must be told if any sort of healing and progress is to be made in our country and society.

Two quotes that hit me over the head:

In many ways, you can say that the North won the Civil War, but the South won the narrative war.  If the urgent narrative that we’re trying to deal with in this country is a narrative of racial difference, the narrative that we have to overcome is a narrative of white supremacy – the South prevailed.

 

The Civil Rights community won the legal battle, but the narrative battle was won by people who were allowed to hold onto this view that there are differences between people who are black and people who are white.

 

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Click here to watch the trailer:

My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It

So this was my day today.

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My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It by Elizabeth Swados

Thankfully, not the actual experience of depression, but the viewing of this documentary.  Or maybe the fact that watching a thirty-minute documentary is all I did hints that the black cloud of depression is looming, but we’ll call the sleeping and loafing I did the rest of the day self-care.  Waking from my two disjointed yet extended naps on our decaying couch, I grabbed a tall glassed concoction of green tea, seltzer, and pomegranate juice and a bag of tortilla chips.  Agog at the television viewing options sans kids, I scanned the documentaries’ list on HBOGo.  Politics?  I didn’t feel like crunching on the facts.  War-torn countries?  I didn’t want to feel the despair.  Alzheimers?  I didn’t want to cry the tears and face my fears.  Depression?  Why not?

Seems like an antithetical choice given my desire to relax and detach, but in the ever-present search for dissection and understanding of the insidious diseases of the mental health variety, I am drawn to all things depression – things done well, that is.  And My Depression: The Ups and Downs of It by Elizabeth Swados, is.

The cartoony quality and upbeat music initially threw me off.  The narration of an overview of living with depression, voiced by Sigourney Weaver, seemed too bubbly or glossy for me.  Then, I realized, it wasn’t necessarily for me, someone who lives with depression; it serves as a great introductory primer to those who don’t deal with depression, who have no clue what it’s like under that deep, dark cloud.

And deep and dark is certainly where things turn when, overcome by seemingly insurmountable odds, Elizabeth’s animated avatar is paid a visit by a ghoulish skeletal guy, voiced by Steve Buscemi, in an ice cream truck named the Suicide Mobile.

But Elizabeth prevails.  Somehow, the human spirit pushes that dark cloud away enough so she can get help – in the form of self-help and love, medication, and therapy.  A particularly striking image is when she doesn’t feel visible or worthy or at all at home in the world, her therapist literally brings her back to life by wrapping her in the warm embrace of a blanket.

My Depression was a little hard to watch.  Initially, because I’d already lived the story, knew the plot line – and ultimately, because it hit so close to home.  For a brief documentary, it covers a lot of psychic ground – and a topic that needs covering in the worst way; for, the dark cloud of depression covers a lot more people than we know.

* Click the image above to link to a trailer of the documentary

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