“Silver Linings Playbook” and Meds: Why the Secrecy?

At the end of the movie Silver Linings Playbook, when main character Pat Peoples is about to embark on the next, happier, more stable part of his life, I think he says something to his ex-wife about doing much better because he is focused, determined, physically fit – and (shhh!)taking his meds.

silver liningsI think he says this because it’s muttered almost under his breath – like it’s a big secret we don’t need the audience to know. As if he could do it all by himself without those nasty “drugs”.

Really? Most of the one-out-of-four families who deal with mental illness will say that, while all those other elements of recovery are also essential (love, purpose, helping others, exercise, structure) , they could be entirely useless without the medications that stabilize the brain. Albeit not perfectly.

Does Pat Peoples Take Meds in Silver Linings Playbook ?

One quote from the book:

“…a woman who knows all my secrets, a woman who knows just how messed up my mind is, how many pills I’m on, and yet she allows me to hold her anyway”,

suggests that Pat did, after initial resistance (which we see in the film), take his medications (which we might see in the film, but it’s left unclear).

How nice it would be if people like my son Ben, diagnosed with schizophrenia, could see a movie hero who learns to accept that his meds do help, openly swallow them in the movie, and acknowledge that they have been part of his recovery.

Thank You, Pharma Companies and Reps

In the past year, I’ve had the honor several times of addressing pharmaceutical reps to tell them how much their work matters. These reps have, well, a bum rap. The face stigma of their own, portrayed as money-hungry, aggressive, pill-pushers. I speak to them in my keynote as author and Mom, tell our story, and remind them that that without new developments in medication – which it is their job to make available – my son might not be where he is in life.

One comment from a recent attendee:

“Your story inspired our entire sales force to continue working hard to ‘bring value to life’ for patients and caregivers alike.  I can’t begin to tell you how moved other members of the company from other sales divisions were to hear your story—it really helped put a face on schizophrenia and the many challenges and hurdles faced by all concerned.”

So – if you research, develop, work for access, make available, or otherwise help to bring new meds to people like my son – thank you. Keep at it, because many of these meds could certainly be improved. But you give our family hope.

Even if my son still feels he needs to hide the fact that medication is part of his recovery. Even if he wants to think all the success is due to his own willpower and drive.

Recovery Needs Many Things – Internal and External

I am a big fan of drive, exercise, community, purpose, and a positive attitude. But, where mental illness is concerned, those qualities are usually not enough – not without meds, especially in people as young as my son.

Maybe, someday, there will be a popular movie that, loud and proud, gives medical treatment some credit too.

(Still – I loved the movie.)

3 thoughts on ““Silver Linings Playbook” and Meds: Why the Secrecy?

  1. *** SPOILER ALERT***

    There was an entire scene where the two main characters swap “what meds are you on?” tales which I thought was fantastic. I thought that did way more for the med conversation than even the subsequent scene where he realizes he has to take his meds (after the rage and striking his mom), standing in the kitchen, resigned to taking them. Wrap that up with the fact that he’s doing well because he’s on his meds – which was said – I thought it did portray meds as an important part of the recovery process. The movie is a huge leap forward to Hollywood changing the dialogue on mental illness.

    1. Thanks Chrisa – I agree! However, some people I know who are less “in the loop” seemed to be under the impression that he did his own recovery without meds — so I guess I would have loved to have seen a clearer declaration at the end that he had stayed on them. thanks for commenting!

  2. He never lies about taking his meds in the movie. After the dance competition, he speaks to his wife and tells her he’s “going to therapy. taking medication”. He reveals that he is finally on the meds. The whole time he’s off the meds, he’s in a manic episode. After he is on the meds, he no longer is delusional and starts making positive steps.

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