“The representation of mental illness in art is fraught with the tension inherent to any profoundly shattering human phenomenon. Like death or war, insanity is a reality rich and storied enough to support the trappings of a broad range of genres and aesthetic choices: slapstick straight jacket gags and terrifying visions of the mind’s hinterlands are borne with equal aplomb. But even in the most beautiful, strange and sympathetic renderings of mental illness (the paintings of Francisco Goya, say, or the poetry of John Berryman), it is hard to escape a certain entrenched taxonomy of representation.”
What About Bob? And My Bad Years by Dustin Illingworth.

In school I sought escape from the nightmare of home, but found neither refuge nor solace, for I was Clint Baker, the boy who played with dolls. So I turned to the church for love, but its love was like chocolate to a dog, a delectable poison. Still, it so mimicked my father’s love, conditional yet capricious—can I be blamed for being so horribly mistaken? I dutifully enrolled in Bible College, where the staff discovered my misplaced diary, and therein the crush I had on a fellow student (years before the crush on the aforementioned Mr. Shaw). Thus I was given the ultimatum: if I was to remain in school, I had to enroll in therapy to convert to heterosexuality. Even after I transferred to Indiana University, I remained in the treatments so as to merit the love of God and man—when all I longed for was the love of a man. When I, wishing to no longer commit the sin of lying, dared to speak the truth that I was most definitely not turning into a heterosexual despite my best effort, I lost nearly everyone.

Then the state of Indiana slashed my funding for school and eliminated the insurance that I needed in part to treat the effects of having suffered a decade under the quacks who failed to transform me into a perfectly acceptable heterosexual. I packed my maximum four bags onto a Greyhound bound for Minneapolis, a place I knew only by reputation—the best decision, aside from abandoning the quackery, I have ever made. My worst day in Minnesota is better than my best day in Indiana because I can breathe free.

I come from strong people. I am Strong. Could I really have any other name?

An Epic In Three Words by Whittier Strong,
What did it mean to be damaged? Beyond repair? Short of surgery, there was no going back. More importantly, back to what? Even in my earliest days, my breasts had never defied gravity as these perky orbs. I had come of age “damaged,” my bazoombas beyond hope even from their budding. Time hadn’t helped. Breastfeeding, now long over, had done no harm, but the stretch marks I’d had since puberty had multiplied during pregnancy. Aside from the added racing stripes, my breasts were back to pre-pregnancy shape, a shape I’d always accepted as my own, as normal, as genetically dictated. A shape that, the infographic argued, was preventable. A shape I was now asked to reconceive as damaged.

Damage: The Soul-Crushing Science Of High-End Bra Shopping by Sian Griffiths.

I think one of the most abusive relationships in my life has been with MY BRAS.

As far as I knew, no one knew about Return to Oz [1985]. I can’t even recall an origin story, how the movie actually showed up in my hands. My sister claims we just found the VHS somewhere, maybe in an overlooked bin, at some video store that may have been Blockbuster. I do remember looking at the cover and knowing immediately that I wanted it. We went home and watched it. And watched it again. And watched it again. And watched it. Again.

This is an Oz you might unfamiliar with. The film begins with Dorothy Gale—the same Dorothy character previously played by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, but now played by a younger Fairuza Balk—shortly after her return to Kansas. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are growing concerned with Dorothy’s inability to sleep, and what they see as her obsessive delusions, this odd fixation on a place she’s created in her head. In order to help cure her, they bring her to a mental institution to be treated overnight via electroshock therapy. It’s nighttime, it’s raining, and Dorothy can hear the howls of other patients in pain.

This unexpected premise resonated with me as a child. At that age, I felt just as Dorothy did—misunderstood to the point of feeling like an alien, finding home only in imagined worlds. I was brought to see a psychiatrist for similar reasons. Why this obsession with the imagined? Where was reality? I was always more concerned with my inner world than socializing with the other kids around me. So prone to fantasy, I hardly even noticed my peers. In pictures, always looked both meek and haunted. My eyes darted elsewhere.

“Yet, Midnight Cowboy fails—and why? Because elsewhere, Schlesinger seems to undermine Salt rather than collaborate with him. Salt has great love for his characters and finds thematic directness and purity in the way he constructs scenes (as he would find again in Serpico and Coming Home, films he wrote for directors—Sidney Lumet and Hal Ashby, respectively—whose visual styles were also direct and pure). Schlesinger, however, was an experimental filmmaker at heart, and in Midnight Cowboy, he fractures the narrative wherever possible. Joe’s history in Texas gets presented in evocative glimpses—a blond woman rocking young Joe, men breaking into a car while Joe has sex with a woman, et cetera—making pretentious what, in Herlihy’s novel, is merely banal and longwinded. (Take your pick between those two artistic sins, I suppose.) There’s a jarring moment early in the film of diegetic sound becoming alien when Joe (and, therefore, the film) visualizes a series of women he hears as voices on a radio. It’s stylistically cool, perhaps, but also pointless, and it establishes Schlesinger’s approach as a director: to fuck with things that ought to be left alone. As such, Schlesinger strives to make Midnight Cowboy an “art film,” with the surreal fragments of Joe’s past; the mixing of fact and fiction (i.e., involving Warhol’s Factory stars in the action at the hilariously dated hipster party); and the indefensibly silly sequence where Ratso imagines Florida, including wheelchair-bound old women chasing him into a pool.”
Adapting To Film: Midnight Cowboy by Benjamin Rybeck.
Boyhood borrows from Jonathan Lethem’s seminal novel The Fortress of Solitude in that it relies on period songs, throughout the film, to allude to precisely which year we are in, and while this is historically admirable it gets a bit stale after a while (the songs function more as markers for era than as songs themselves, with the result that the music rarely adds to the mood—it’s as if the songs are data points).”
“My grandmother died this past January, and I did not attend her funeral.

I live in Boston now and she lived in Hisarya, Bulgaria, and I could not afford the plane ticket. This is the equation every emigrant tries to solve: distance times the cost of travel equals helplessness equals heartache equals guilt.

I carried my grief like a bruise on a part of my body hidden from others. I told my husband about my grandmother’s passing but did not want to discuss it, and I didn’t tell any of my friends except one, weeks after the fact, in a text message. I could not bring myself to talk about losing my last living grandparent, because talking about her would mean talking about the literal and figurative ocean between where I come from and where I am now.”
“This is not a feel-good story. I tell you this now because I am offering you an out. Shut your eyes. Close your ears. Walk away. Go ahead. It’s your choice. I would. My first instinct would be to run. But for some damn reason, I’ve committed to embracing this story as sacred. This is my attempt to set it upon the altar and regard it with reverence.

There are three things you should know. First: I have been suicidal twice in my life—at the age of twelve and again at the age of thirty-six. Second: Although I have never attempted suicide, only flirted with it in extreme ideation, I am a suicide survivor. Third: A fifteen-year-old boy named John, the first-born child and only son of a dear friend and my oldest daughter Lily’s first crush, saved my life. He did this by taking his own.”
“Hemingway presents war as a territory of human experience where all possibilities of love dwindle and vanish. The war’s promise of glory, the pursuit of valor, the coming of courage, the anticipation of victory, and the sense of doom and inevitability of human defeat that overwhelms the story at its end, sends me into the depths of my childhood. In the early 1990s, boys like Nazir, in their late teens, would leave home, all heroism and bravado, to go across the Line of Control, to the other part of Kashmir. They would train as militants there and then return to fight, for the principle of aazadi, freedom, against the Indian soldiers.”
“The sorcery of grief and illness is powerful, an unstoppable tale at the end of which all people don’t emerge, or else they stumble into a fierce light, wholly changed. I’m sitting in the garden, but in my mind I’m in the glass gallery with the parts Frida left behind, the parts that didn’t die with her, that the public will inherit: her legs, her rings, her winged corsets, the ragged and miraculously preserved artifacts of her disappeared body. Is it her pain, or her freedom from pain, that we celebrate? How are we devoted to her, and to one another? What does true devotion require? What mental and physical perversions/reversals are necessary for us to keep living on in this ruptured world? This line from Solnit, this question, sings in my head, but has no answer: “Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who tells your story?” Fairytales, Solnit says, are about getting into and out of trouble; our most important stories are about turbulence. Out of one darkness and into one light. You enter a forest that forges you, and eventually escape it to enter another.”