Found this on a friend’s blog. I like it. It rings true.
SURVIVING YOUR TWENTIES
“They call it the “quarter-life crisis.” It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn’t know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don’t recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren’t really cold, catty, mean, or insincere, but that they are just as confused as you.You look at your job… and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because you suddenly realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn’t. One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused.Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past for dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future, and making a life for yourself… and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender. What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. And really, this is an acknowledment that you are not alone in this….. “
Pros and Cons of this musical, which is all about bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (through grieving a lost child) and its effect on family life (oh, by the way, if you’re at all bothered, this probably contains NTN spoilers):
Increasing awareness of bipolar disorder - in my opinion, always a good thing. The terms ‘depression’, ‘mania’ and ‘bipolar’ (as well as many other less-PC and more derogatory terms) are bandied almost as often as Apprentice contestants talk about ‘skill sets’ and ‘the end of the day’ (sorry for this analogy… it’s still on my mind after watching the final last night and nearly wetting myself with reality TV-induced excitement). But a lot of people don’t actually know what these terms mean. Who, for example, has compared someone with a bit of an up-and-down temper to having bipolar disorder? Quite a few people. When in fact, episodes of mania and depression in bipolar disorder actually last for months at a time. Also, people often user the word ‘manic depressive’ in the sense that that person is just very (‘manically’) depressed. It’s actually another term for bipolar disorder - i.e. mania AND depression in one lovely package.
Showing how someone having such a disorder can effect a family - and not just in a slapstick “oh-God-what-SHALL-we-do-with-mother?” way. The musical is very good at showing the feelings of not just the character who is actively suffering, but her family members who are passively suffering. Her husband feels like he’s trying to help but ultimately failing at not only supporting his wife, but also their marriage; the daughter feels like she’ll never be good enough as her mother seems to preoccupied with her brother (SPOILER - he’s actually dead). The mother feels useless, cheated, persecuted and unwanted. And that’s on top of all the side effects of her drugs (see the song ‘My Psychopharmacologist and I’ for details).
It (sort of) doesn’t have a happy ending - and before I’m accused of being wholly pessimistic (although this would probably never happen as I rarely raise the opportunity for anyone to class me as such) I’ll explain why this is a pro. I’m stating the obvious, but musicals generally have happy endings with everything turning out just spiffing, and even though we’ve all suspended our disbelief quite dramatically (to the point where we’ve hoisted it up a multi-storey car park and hung it by the neck until there’s no life left in it) we leave with a sense of fulfillment and promise - that everything will be OK. It probably won’t be though. Which is why it’s nice to see a musical attempting to be real (we’ll ignore the ghostly apparitions of the son and the unnecessary bursting into song at high emotional points) and NOT having the parents live happily ever after and NOT having the daughter turn round and say that everything’s oh-so-much-better now.
THE PERSON WITH DEPRESSION IS NOT A TEENAGER! When was the last time we saw that, Entertainment Business? And, to make things even better…
IT’S NOT A RESULT OF POST-NATAL DEPRESSION EITHER! Well… yes her son did die when he was two, but that’s still very different. Both of these things mean that we’re looking at someone who doesn’t automatically fall into the ‘Stroppy Teenager’ category AND someone who’s got depression in such a way that it’s not so easily pigeonholed. Depression, it seems, can affect people over the age of 20! Gosh. Who knew?
Should we really be making musicals about depression in the first place? - this is my main criticism. I mean, really? Yes we’ve had a lot of plays about it (and if you’re asking me to recommend one - oh… you weren’t? Well I’ll do it anyway… here you go) so maybe it is time to move on a bit. However, the moment you say ‘MUSICAL’ to someone it still conjures up images of Anything-Goes-style chorus lines and glitzy jazz-hands dance numbers. The very idea of making a musical about bipolar disorder could seem to some a little distasteful.
It doesn’t exactly make us sympathetic with the psychiatrist - and, as an ex-neuroscientist with that psychology degree firmly planted in the back of my mind (excuse the HILARIOUS pun), I WANT to sympathise with the psychiatrist. There’s one part in particular where the doctor tells Diana (our bipolar-suffering heroine) that, as her medication has brought some ‘interesting’ side-effects, they will alter her drugs until they get it right (and, wonderfully, there’s a very similar, if a lot less musical, scene in 4:48 Psychosis which involves the same kind of guess-work). Her dripping-with-sarcasm-reaction is as follows: "Not a very exact science, is it?" Well, no. It’s not. Why? Because (here’s the shocker) everyone is different. Just like everyone looks different, acts different, and sounds different - drugs do different things to different people. And yes it’s a shame that there’s not one miracle drug that will cure depression instantly, but that’s the case for most illnesses. Your brain is a complicated structure (shocker #2) and needs to adjust accordingly when you have to take pills every day to help it get back to normal.
It’s still a musical - meaning: a) they still burst into song in every scene; b) there’s movement and dancing and lights; c) not everybody’s going to want that. In fact, more than half of my friends would probably NOT want to spend an evening watching a musical, no matter how many times I’ve tried to force them. And ultimately, this means that whatever message you’re trying to get across, there’s still a vast majority of people who just aren’t going to listen.
I could probably write lots more on the subject but it’s nearly home time and I haven’t done much work in the past hour as a result of writing this. But hey - I’m interested in theatre and psychology and when the two come together, I feel the need to TYPE. Apparently.
Often there are a lot of things about the world that make us sad or worried or angry, so occasionally it is nice to sit down and have a think about nice things that have happened. That is what I am going to now, specifically about Wednesday.
1) Fun and games in the office. Present for all staff, including DVD box sets, bottles of champagne, and chocolate. Great news.
2) Office Christmas meal involved all of the alcohol you can possible imagine, and great food. If you know me, you will understand how much more important the food was than the alcohol. But the alcohol was definitely a bonus.
3) And finally the BEST BIT. So Bex and I went to this comedy gig on Wednesday evening, and obviously with the likes of Jon Richardson, Dan Atkinson, and Lloyd Langford on stage, it was amazing. But they did three special competitions throughout, where one of the guys would challenge the other two with a task, and the two guys doing the task would pick audience members to win prizes for. For the third competition, Jon Richardson picked me - AMAZING - and then proceeded to win - ALSO AMAZING. And the prize was a pig farming experience day in Shropshire - AMAZING!
I’m only posting this because I feel it’s the small things in life that make us happiest. And that was a very happy day. Hooray!
I have two vital things that I simply MUST blog about. *licks quill and poises to write*
1) Last night I climbed into bed only to get the shock of my life when my foot touched something sharp. Further investigation found that it was a mini fondue skewer. That’s not something you find in your bed every day.
2) I’ve discovered that I get incredibly excited about train/bus journeys on my own when I’m going somewhere new. This occurred to me when I booked my tickets at the weekend for the National Youth Orchestra Winter 2011 course that I’m working on at the end of the month. I’m off on a train to a place I’ve never been before and I’m positively chewing my own face off with excitement. But mainly about the (no doubt boring and uneventful) journey there on the 28th. [pause] …sorry, I had to stop writing there and marvel at my own horrific sad existence. I just wrote two thirds of a blog entry on my metaphorical hard-on for dull public transport journeys. On my own.
I really have spent a sickening amount of money at Poundland over the past week. There was an article in the Evening Standard last week where a journalist tried to live on Poundland food for a week. Ever since I read it I’ve been sorely tempted to do the same. Except forever. In a vain attempt to save money.
But this is the thing about moving into an apparently furnished new house. Yes it has a bed in each bedroom, along with wardrobes and drawers and walls and draughts (no curtains - *annoyed glance towards the window*). But we have no plates or tea-towels or coat hooks or mirrors and things like that. And Poundland has become my go-to place for the essentials in life. WHY NOT FOOD AS WELL? (I can answer this question myself: poor quality goods and the inevitable fact that I would just end up eating £1 bars of Galaxy for each meal).
ALSO the fact that everything is £1 is actually not always a good thing. I can head to Morrisons or Tesco and find various AINSLEY HARRIOT COUS-COUS SACHETS (just add boiling water and it’s pretty much a full meal) for 50p!!! Yes I will probably get sick of them, but UNTIL THEN, FRIENDS. *raises bowl of cous-cous in celebration*
So what’s better value than Poundland? Quite a lot of places. Also, they didn’t have a sewing kit. What’s with that? They did, however, stock an interesting checked scarf, which will be cut up and used to patch up my ripped trousers. Thanks, Poundland, for providing me with cheap material that I can essentially destroy and re-use for my own alternative purposes.
My room is now starting to look like a room! And not like a large box with a bed in it.
Today I was harassed by people outside Highbury & Islington Station. Some of them were handing out free high-fives. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure if I can think of the last time a high-five wasn’t free. It’s just a widely-used, often celebratory, international hand gesture. What next? A fine for shaking hands? An obligatory tax for glancing at others in the street? Out of my way, High-Five Givers.
The other people were harassing me for the sake of tigers. YES it is important to save species nearing extinction and YES tigers are very nice but if I’m on my way to Tesco, it’s usually because I’m hungry, and unless you’re handing out free tiger sandwiches (which, let’s face it, you’re probably not as you’re campaigning to save tigers), I will let nothing get in my way.
And don’t start on me about not caring about animal rights. I used to be a member of the RSPCA Animal Action Club. I got the monthly magazine and everything.
I think it’ll be OK though. We can all get through this together. Deep breaths.
So I could start by telling you all about my plans for buying some IKEA bookshelves. Or about the fact that even though I have moved into my house, we have no plates, bowls, cutlery, pots or pans, and so I have to spend most of my time concocting meals in my head that don’t require those things (so far: pitta bread and humous).
But none of that stuff is even remotely interesting. So I’ll just leave it there for now. I’m going to refrain from blogging about my inane life, day by day, and hopefully just update every so often with a witty/hilarious social commentary. Or, more likely, a funny YouTube clip.