Tag Archives: memory

Joy Is At The Helm

Boyfriend and I saw Inside Out last night.  Why is it anyway that they’ve starting showing movies that open Friday at like 7pm on Thursday, anyway?  Regardless, this was a very good movie.  No, it wasn’t any Up as the previews kept saying.  However, I think that Inside Out is going to be a movie that starts some very important conversations.

First up, the plot.   The main character, Riley, an 11 year old girl has some major changes come up in her life.  Actually, the main characters are the personified emotions in Riley’s head: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  They each have their own role in keeping Riley safe, happy, and healthy, by basically influencing her into making memories.  We all know how that goes – something happens, we’re influenced by some emotion based on past experiences, and we react and create new memories.

When these big changes happen in Riley’s life, her emotions are thrown into a panic, but Joy tries to keep everything together.  She tries to keep Riley happy and well, joyful.  Joy is at the emotion that seems to be “in charge,” she’s at the helm, trying to keep Riley in her personal happy places.  Unfortunately, when Riley’s life is in flux, Sadness has an uncontrollable urge to touch the memories, which starts turning them blue.  Joy and the other emotions try to banish Sadness and prevent her from touching anything, but she cannot seem to stop it, and doesn’t know why, so she’s eternally apologetic.

When all this was happening, I turned to Evan and said, “Holy crap, she’s depressed!”  Even though I’m no mental health professional and I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, this sounded like every conversation I’ve ever had with someone about their diagnosis, if they have either depression or bipolar.  What’s important to RIley starts to crumble away, and Joy and Sadness embark on an epic quest through long term memory to bring Riley back to them.

I don’t want to give away too too much, but the ending, the moral, it’s a heavy one for kids.  It’s okay to be sad sometimes.  We can’t always be Joy.  And without Sadness, Joy loses it’s luster.

This movie could seriously bring up what needs to get brought out of the shadows and into the light of mental illness.  It’s the beginning of a conversation about how no matter how wonderful and how perfect our life seems and how much of a happy face we put on, there’s a million more things going on below the surface.  It’s the story of how we’re all different, even though we have the same emotions (for each glimpse into another person’s head, there was a different emotion, “at the helm”).  Emotions are simply not that simple and memory can change over time.  And sometimes things go wrong and we need help.

Let’s talk about childhood depression.  It exists.  It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s usually swept under the rug.  Thank you Pixar, for taking steps to bring it into the light.

That being said, my new mantra is: JOY IS AT THE HELM.  Maybe I can keep Joy at the helm of my life (though I can’t imagine – I think Anger’s at my helm).

Joy is at the Helm

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Still Alice – I’m Not Done Yet, Do We Have to Go?

On Tuesday, Boyfriend and I went and saw Still Alice and Birdman (there will be a seperate post for that if I ever work out how I felt about it).  Basically, I picked a movie and he picked a movie.  Of course both of these movies were on our lists of movies to eventually see, since they had won awards at the Oscars, so I didn’t feel too badly choosing Still Alice, I actually assumed he’d be choosing Birdman.

Alice is a linguistics professor at Columbia.  She lives the life she’s always wanted – travelling, learning, teaching, and loving her family.  This all changes when she starts to lose little things. She forgets a word.  She gets lost on campus. She can’t remember things told to her moments before.  In secret, without telling her husband or grown children, she starts to see a neurologist who eventually diagnoses her with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

As someone who is a caregiver in this field, I have some questions as to how they came to the diagnosis.  I know diagnostic tools have gotten better, but we still cannot definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s until autopsy.

The rest of the movie is the story of her loss, how she masters the Art of Losing.  It’s a story of how her family members cope, both well and not so well.

This part was heartbreaking because not only is Alice losing the memory of her family, but in some ways she really is losing them because they’re pulling away or changing entirely to cope/notcope with Alice’s changes.  There was a line in a PinkBerry, where Alice’s husband asks her if she still wants to be here (meaning New York, the house, etc. etc.), she responds: “I’m not done yet.  Do we have to go?”  In the entire movie there is no line that sums up this disease better.  All of the people afflicted have lived lives and none of them deserved to have these lives ripped away from them.  The people afflicted have more to give if we let them, they’d have even more to give if their entire lives hadn’t been ripped away from them by the betrayal of their own brains.

Everyone that has this disorder.  Everyone.  They weren’t done yet.  They weren’t ready to go.

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“Just a Dog”? No Such Thing.

There is no such thing as “just a dog.”  If you have “just a dog,” you’re doing pet ownership wrong.  My dog is my family.

Saturday afternoon we had to put our 16 year old Norfolk Terrier, Starship Trooper, to sleep.  He slept in my parent’s room and he woke them up around 5am, seizing.  He calmed down, but wasn’t moving much, so they sat up, just holding him, for a couple hours.  My sister’s got up and went to work, saying their goodbyes on their way out.  My parents went to bed, putting him on the bed between them, where he used to sleep when he could still jump up onto their bed.  It was my day off, and I got up around 10am, had myself a cup of coffee.  Around 11, my mother came into my room, saying “I think it’s the day for Trooper.”  Last Monday, he had been bleeding and when we took him to the vet, they said it was likely colon cancer, but the only way to confirm was a biopsy and that wasn’t fair to put him in so much pain at the age he was at.  So they gave us antibiotics and pain killers for him, in the off chance that it wasn’t cancer.  Saturday, when my folks came and got me, we sat with Trooper in their bedroom for a few hours, and then we carried him into the living room and I sat there and held him until 1pm, when we really had to make the decision.  The poor guy hated the car, and we wanted him to pass peacefully at home, but it simply wasn’t fair to make him wait another day.  It was time and he didn’t seem to be in much pain, and he did know what was going on during those hours with him.  He knew we were there.

The moment that my brain is playing again and again is when I cleared the blankets away from the window so that he could look outside, and our other dog decided that this would be a good time to sit there.  I half-scolded him for it, and Trooper, who had been laying in my arms either felt the vibrations of my chest or heard me and craned around to look at me, before settling his head on my bosom.

RIP Starship Trooper 10/20/1997 – 12/07/2013

The vet was horrible and I don’t want to talk about it, so instead I’m going to talk about how wonderful Trooper was.

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