Why “Running From Crazy” Has a Bigger Meaning

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival showing of this true story about actress Mariel Hemingway’s quest to understand her family’s struggles with mental illness goes way beyond the film. It brings to light something our society tends to look at as taboo – the subject of mental illness.

In “Running From Crazy” Mariel Hemingway candidly reveals her own anxieties about the future of her and her immediate family’s mental health while taking a good look at the complexities of the history of her dad’s side of the family’s own struggle. It’s raw. It’s emotional. It’s very real and not just for them, but for thousands of others who wonder every day, “Will I go ‘crazy’ too?”

Running From Crazy David Cassidy Lisa Sullivan

Me with the film’s Producer, David Cassidy

The film is coming out at a poignant time in our own country as the issue of mental health has come to light due to some of the most horrific events in our country in recent history. Take the shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut just to name a couple. Everyone relates those mostly to gun control or lack of it. But, there’s a bigger issue there too – the mental health of those that committed the crimes.

Just over the weekend, Pastor Rick Warren’s 27 yr old son committed suicide and it was revealed that he too suffered from mental illness.

For me, the tragedy isn’t just the acts that were committed in the above examples; it’s the inability to properly care for and treat those that committed them. Honestly, I don’t know enough about the issue of mental health and treatments. The only thing I do know is that it’s time to recognize it’s an issue and figure out what more we can do to protect and care for those that suffer so they never get to the point where harming themselves or others is even a thought. Not only that, but we need to let those know around us that we accept that they too may be suffering from a mental imbalance, that it’s OK to admit it and to get the help needed for whatever it may be.

Whether someone is clinically depressed, bi-polar, schizophrenic, etc. we as a society need to not look down on their plight, but rather be understanding and nurturing to help them find their way out of whatever darkness that plagues them.

I am blessed to have a healthy mind, at least I believe it’s healthy. I’ve never been deeply depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts nor have I ever had that and then the incredible high that follows, and I’m definitely not schizophrenic or anything else for that matter. God blessed me with a healthy mind, and I feel for those that don’t, those that recognize they don’t and even more importantly, those that don’t recognize it at all and are thus, not receiving any treatment.

What kind of treatment? I don’t know. I believe that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain somewhere when someone is diagnosed with clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. I’d like to believe that a combination of drugs and holistic medicines, change of diet and lifestyle, a spiritual awakening if you will, all of that combined contribute to treatment. But, I don’t know.

Running From Crazy Barbara Kopple Lisa Sullivan

Me with the film’s Director, Barbara Kopple

What I found with “Running From Crazy” is that I am thankful that Mariel Hemingway opened up her heart and her mind to allowing herself and her family to be documented in such a way that it probably not only helped her, but it brings to light the plight of others who suffer the same thoughts or tendencies. It was a powerful film; so moving that it brought me to tears in some scenes and left me speechless in the end. News of its wide distribution or public airing should be coming soon.

If you or someone you know suffers (or may suffer) from mental illness, I encourage you to see this film. Check out their Facebook Page to keep up with screenings and its progress going forward too.

I also encourage you to get involved in the cause. If you’re local to The Triangle, there’s a fantastic event each October called “The Walk For Hope”. It’s an amazing uplifting event that raises money for research into and a cure for mental illness in honor of the Founder of Raleigh’s own Angus Barn. I attended last year and once again, I was moved to tears. In fact, just thinking about this year’s event already has me teary.

One final word – while gun control is certainly an issue when it comes to cases involving those who commit such heinous crimes, it’s not the ONLY one. Help our society figure out a way to stop the violence by finding a pathway to a cure for the mentally ill, first. Do that and their need for a gun to take away their pain won’t be an issue, right?

Tough subject but one that needs attention. I pray every day that we’ll win this fight. I do.

2 Responses to “Why “Running From Crazy” Has a Bigger Meaning”
  1. kay says:

    Very nice article. Definitely makes me want to see the film.

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