How Hollywood is Portraying Mental Illness

How Hollywood is Portraying Mental Illness

As moviemakers make huge bucks, the stigma against those with mental illnesses continues.
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Who doesn’t love Hollywood? But when it comes to such sensitive topics as mental illnesses, sometimes the movies don’t depict things the way that they are. Moviemakers may sensationalize, or they may make characters with mental illness ( who are already stigmatized in society) out to be the villain. Below are some movies about the topic of mental illness, and what they got right (or wrong) about the illnesses they depict. Beware, my commentaries may contain spoilers!

1. "The Butterfly Room"

Ann, played by Barbara Steele, is a lonely old woman with bipolar disorder who develops a disturbing mother-daughter relationship with a young girl named Alice. Ann uses her butterfly collection to enchant Alice. When Ann realizes that Alice is friends with other old women, she becomes jealous and feels the need to go out on a killing spree to preserve her mother-daughter relationship.

What it gets (wrong): While people with bipolar disorder may or may not be violent, but this is a huge exaggeration. I remember as a kid my friend’s mom had bipolar disorder. She wasn't aggressive. Some days she would have a grandiose view of herself and say she was going to be a doctor. Other days she struggled to get out of bed or do the laundry.

2. "The Babadook"

A grief-stricken widow’s son has an imaginary friend named Mr. Babadook. And Mr. Babadook is not the nice kind of imaginary friend. Mr. Babadook comes out of a book, he wears a top hat and has arms that mock the cross. The boy’s mother starts to see Mr. Babadook everywhere. This is one of my favorite movies because we hardly if ever see anything, but the sense of psychological despair and trauma is real. This is horror without the blood and the guts.

What it gets (right): Most mental illnesses, while they never go away, can be controlled through medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

3. "The Secret Window"

Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, an alcoholic writer whose wife died. Rainey is suddenly blackmailed by a mysterious stranger. It turns out Mort Rainey has secrets of his own. (Spoiler: He has multiple personalities and the stranger is one of his personalities. Rainey killed his wife and buried her in the cornfields outside of his house.)

What it gets (wrong): Few people with mental illnesses are psychopaths. And people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims, rather than the perpetrators of crimes.

4. "Silver Linings Playbook"

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a mental institution for beating up his wife’s lover during one of his bipolar lows. When Solitano leaves the institution, he learns his wife has moved away and his dad is bookmaking so he can earn the money to open a restaurant. Pat refuses to take his medication and tries to manage his bipolar through exercise and healthy living. He befriends Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow who also has issues and they bond over not fitting in. Pat tries to have Tiffany communicate with his ex-wife. Pat and Tiffany enter a dance competition.

What it gets (right): Some people such as Pat may refuse to take their medication because they don’t like the way it makes them feel. They might feel as if it makes them drowsy or like a zombie. While exercise can help with mental health, some people find they need to take medication as well. People with mental illnesses can be loving, friendly people just like anyone else. People with bipolar disorder may find it hard to keep a job because when they are on one of their highs they are elated with life, but when they are on their lows they may struggle to function.

Cover Image Credit: Fan Pop

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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