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6 Movies People With Bipolar Disorder Relate To

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Editor’s Note: The following post may contain spoilers about the movies mentioned. 

Finding movies that accurately represent bipolar disorder can feel difficult. When the media we consume seems to always depict people with mental illness as “dangerous” or “scary,” it can be easy to wonder if compassionate depictions of bipolar disorder exist at all.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Luckily, there are some movies that resonate with people who live with bipolar disorder. Although not all these movies feature bipolar explicitly, it’s powerful to see something you relate to represented on screen for the first time. Below, you’ll find movie recommendations from folks in our bipolar disorder community. Is there a movie we didn’t list? Share in the comments!

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. Silver Linings Playbook

“Silver Linings Playbook” follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a man with bipolar disorder who was recently hospitalized, and Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a woman who has mental health struggles of her own — though she is not given a specific diagnosis in the movie. As both cope with the loss of relationships (Pat’s marriage ended in divorce and Tiffany was recently widowed), throughout the movie, they navigate the process together.

“’Silver Linings Playbook’ is the only [good portrayal] I’ve come across. It showed the real, ugly sides of bipolar disorder that so many people are afraid to address and it was a love story but not one of those ‘love fixes your mental illness’ love stories. All around just great.” — Caitlin D.

2. “The Wolf of Wall Street”

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was a wealthy stockbroker in New York City. The movie shows his (and his firm’s) downfall due to involvement in crime and rampant corruption.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ describes mania so well — ‘Let’s do cocaine and spend thousands of dollars!’ On top of the world and a heightened sense of self importance.” — Mitch C.

3. “Limitless”

“Limitless” is a science fiction thriller that follows the life of  Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) who is introduced to a drug that gives him the ability to access 100 percent of his brain abilities (though it’s a myth, people tend to believe we only use 10 percent of our brains). Because of his enhanced capabilities, Morra becomes a financial wizard, but it gets him into a dangerous position.

I love ‘Limitless.’ I know it’s not technically about bipolar disorder, but I believe it portrays a manic episode with distinct clarity. My friends living with bipolar disorder agree. Everything from the frenetic energy, the lost time, the hypersexuality, the spending, etc. It really does represent mania, (and some of the consequences), well.” — Kimberly F.

4. “Mad Love”

“Mad Love” follows the high school relationship of Matt Leland (Chris O’Donnell) and Casey Roberts (Drew Barrymore), a woman who has significant mental health struggles. After Casey attempts suicide and is hospitalized, Matt sneaks her out and they begin a road trip together, where her mental struggles worsen.

I’ve always related to ‘Mad Love’ starring Drew Barrymore. Her character’s dramatic mood swings, erratic behavior, suicide attempts and self-destructive tendencies paint a good picture of my experience.” — Alycia C.

5. “Infinitely Polar Bear”

“Infinitely Polar Bear” focuses on how bipolar disorder can affect a family unit. Cam Stuart (Mark Ruffalo) is a father living with bipolar disorder who was fired from his job and hospitalized after having a psychotic break. Stuart tries to win back his wife (Zoe Saldana) by raising their two young daughters.

“’Infinitely Polar Bear.’ Awesome movie that shows mania, how bipolar affects families, shows the bipolar spouse as loved, shows medication compliance and trial and error with meds, and shows improvement on meds. I just really love this movie.” — Kristi A.

6. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

The Nightmare Before Christmas” is an animated movie following Jack Skellington (voiced by Danny Elfman), and his attempt to bring Christmas to Halloween Town.

“I have a bit of each character as different stages in my moods. Jack and oogiboogi as mania. Sally as ‘normal’ stable and self-destructive (has no problem jumping out of the lab).” — Raven M.

What would you add?

Header via “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” Facebook pages

Originally published: October 3, 2018
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