Diana Ross does an excellent job portraying Pauline Cooper, a 42 year old woman with schizophrenia. "It's like she has a terminal illness, but she never dies," Pauline's mother said. The movie shows the emotional burden on the family. Pauline endured 43 hospitalizations because she didn't like taking her medicine because of the side effects (tardive dyskinesia). Tardive dyskinesia makes a person have irregular movements of the tongue, hands, feet, or lips. I didn't like taking my medication as well, because it gave me akathisia. Akathisia is constant movement. I couldn't sleep, I had to continuously stay in motion. Fortunately, I was able to change medications and try a newer drug called Abilify that does not have the same side effects.
"I'm not sick, your sick," Pauline told the health professional. At first, I didn't believe nurses when they told me I was sick. However, when I was stable on medication and the doctor sat me down and told me I have schizophrenia, I believed him. The saddest part of the movie, for me, was when Pauline's mother locked the door because Pauline was a potential threat to her and her granddaughter, and Pauline saw this. Another sad moment was when her boyfriend stopped seeing her after he discovered she has a mental illness. This particular situation concerned me, however, my boyfriend does not let it ruin our relationship. There were a lot of sad moments in the movie, however, I do not want to recall them all because I would be ruining the movie for other viewers who have not watched this movie yet.
When I saw the scene with the nurses holding Pauline down to give her a shot, this reminds me of my own experience with forced medication. Another scene that reminds me of my own background with schizophrenia was while Pauline was hearing voices in the car and freaking out. When I heard voices I freaked out too, I couldn't get the voices to stop. I also could relate to Pauline when she describes the experience as a 'dream you cannot wake up from...' In addition to that, I describe it more as a nightmare that you cannot wake up from. Overall, I think the movie did a very good job of portraying how scary it is to hear voices and to adjust to recovery.
Fortunately, Pauline took a drug called Clozapine to recover. Clozapine does not cause tardive dyskinesia, however, it does reduce white blood cells to fight disease. This drug requires consistent monitoring. Pauline had to give weekly blood samples.
The only disappointment I have with the movie is that it cut out the part where Diana Ross steps out of character to address the audience about schizophrenia and how to get help. That was one of the most important parts of the movie!
Do you think that Pauline stayed on her medication? Do you think that her daughter should have lived with her? What do you think Pauline was thinking when she saw the homeless woman at the end of the movie?