April 15, 2010
Susanna and Me
It’s one of those movies that I relate to so strongly that watching it is cathartic, almost a passive way of acting out my inner conflicts. And yes, I suppose it is an avenue through which I relive the past – not in a way that is harmful, but reflective. Susanna Kayson, the character portrayed by Winona Ryder, reminds me so much of myself it’s a bit uncanny. I’ve already written a blog post about the ambivalence towards life that we share. Here are some other examples of things we have in common that stand out the most…
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay in one place.”
~Her understanding of what it feels like to want to hurt yourself:
“I’ll never know what it’s like to be her. But I know what it’s like to wanna die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in, but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.”
~Her confusion about her BPD diagnosis and the stigma surrounding it:
“Borderline WHAT? Borderline between WHAT and WHAT?”
Susanna, reading from a book: “Borderline Personality Disorder. An instability of self-image, relationships and mood…uncertain about goals, impulsive in activities that are self-damaging…Social contrariness and a generally pessimistic attitude are often observed. Well, that’s me.”
Lisa: “That’s everybody.”
~Her need to express herself through writing.
Susanna: “How am I supposed to recover when I don’t even understand my disease?”
Valerie: “But you do understand it. You spoke very clearly about it a second ago. But I think what you’ve got to do is put it down. Put it away. Put it in your notebook. But get it out of yourself. Away – So you can’t curl up with it anymore. Do not drop anchor here, understand?”
~Her dream of being a writer and her inability to live up the others’ expectations.
“What are your plans for the future?” “I’m going to be a writer.” “Yes, but… What do you plan to DO?” “I plan to WRITE.”
~Her persistent denial of her own illness until someone told her otherwise. :
“I didn’t try to kill myself. I had a headache.”
Later in the movie…
Toby: “Look Susanna, you don’t need to be here.”
“I tried to kill myself Toby.”
~Her phases of morbid fascination with death and suicide:
“See, once it’s in your head though, you become this strange, new breed. A life form that loves to fantasize about its own demise… I don’t wanna die. I was just talking.”
~Feeling just barely “normal” enough (or perceived by others as such) to feel like she needed some kind of excuse for being sent to a mental institution.
Cab driver: “What did you do? You look normal.”
Cab driver: “Well, everyone’s sad.”
Susanna: “I… see things.”
~Her depression, confusion, and impulsiveness.
~Her mixed feelings and doubts about herself and whether or not she really is “crazy.”
“Declared healthy and sent back into the world. My final diagnosis: A recovered borderline. What that means, I still don’t know. Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is.”
“Crazy isn’t being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me, amplified. If you ever told a lie, and enjoyed it. If you ever wished you could be a child forever. “
Her experiences in the mental institution bring back memories of my own confinements. Sitting next to my computer is thin, bound notebook with “Patient’s Journal” on the cover. It was given to me during my first stay in the mental hospital. I am a little nervous about opening it. I’ve wanted to write about my experiences for a while now, but haven’t had the courage to revisit those times. There is so much inside me unsaid, and I feel a burning need to tell my stories. However, I am leaving that rather daunting task until tomorrow – hopefully I will be able to focus better, as today my attention is scattered several places. Until then.