Tonight I watched the film, Still Alice. I don’t wish to spoil the plot for those of you that would like to see it, but the basic premise is about a woman who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, and it’s a realistic and harrowing portrayal of what it’s like to live with the disease. As you all know, I don’t suffer from Alzheimer’s myself – and I’m under no illusions that I have any idea what it’s like to live with it – but somehow this film struck a chord with me.

It was the lack of control the character had over her brain. The way in which she so desperately wanted things to be better and normal but her mind wouldn’t allow those desires to become a reality.The constant and every day struggle and fight that was happening in her head. The helpless looks on everybody’s faces around her as they had no concept of what to do to help. The way it consumed her and stopped her from doing the things she loved the most.

And so now I lie here, in complete darkness, trying so hard to get to sleep and stop these thoughts racing through my mind. I can close my eyes for a matter of seconds before they’re wide open again, thinking about my own life and the similarities we all have to each other no matter our condition.

At one point in the film, the character bluntly states, ‘I wish I had cancer’ – a difficult sentence to comprehend to the average person. I actually watched the film with my mum, and at this point she almost laughed. I don’t know if it was shock or a nervous reflex, I didn’t ask, but I’m sure most people’s first reaction would be: how could somebody say that? How could somebody say that they want a disease that kills millions? How can somebody be that lost within themselves that that’s a thought that even passes through them?

But right now I’m not going to sit here and edit my thoughts before I write them down. I’m not going to lie or say what I’m supposed to say. Instead I’m going to say that I get it. I didn’t feel shocked or nervous when this line was read out. I felt understanding and almost comforted by the commonality between us. I know it’s a controversial thing to say; I’ve lost and am currently losing family members at the moment to the disease, and one of my best friends lost her mum to cancer just last year. It’s an awful, agonising, painful and traumatic thing to have, or to watch someone else have. I am in no way trying to belittle that and I do not at all wish that I had cancer. But I do get it. I get what she meant.

I understand what it’s like to have your illness belittled over and over again. I understand what it’s like to be made to feel ashamed of it because it’s an illness of the brain and not something ‘real’ like what cancer is. I understand what it’s like to want to die; to end it all because being here is just too damn hard, and surely cancer would just be quicker and less painful – because nothing can be as painful as this.

I can’t watch suicides/attempted suicides in films or TV programmes, and I don’t like talking about them fiction or otherwise. Everyone knows that I’m unbearably squeamish and so most of the time people assume this is why. But that’s not really it. Suicide scares me to watch or hear about or think about in any real capacity because it’s a reality for me. It’s something that I can sympathise with and although have never got to the point where I have ever carried out any suicidal thoughts, I do understand what it’s like to be in that head space. I feel it. It’s hard to explain in words but it makes me panic and my heart beats at a million miles per hour. It’s like watching someone else die a painful death due to a disease that you have yourself.

Still Alice may be about a person living with Alzheimer’s and the harsh reality that that brings, but I think that anybody suffering with any type of mental illness would find similarities between the character and themselves. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Hopefully now that these thoughts are laid out here, I can finally get some sleep! Have a great day/night – depending where you are in the world!

20 thoughts on “Reality

  1. journeytomakingmoneyonline says:

    I won’t read anymore, I don’t like spoilers haha. Even though, I have a record of figuring out the movie before it’s end. I figured out Inception in 3mins. My GF leaned over at the end and was like how did you know? I was like, it’s how my mind works.


  2. AlphaSilvr says:

    It’s nice to know that others have had the same thought of having a “real” disease. Its a horrible thought and I feel terrible about thinking it and about those that do have it, but its true. Cancer doesn’t carry the “it all in your mind so get over it” stigma that mental illness does. It also gives a “reason” for being unable to do something. Its a terrible feeling.

    I agree whole-heartedly on suicide as well. Its a dark place filled with monsters that make nightmares look like My Little Ponies.

    Thank you for the thoughts. Its nice to know we are all not alone… and neither are you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. patternsofsouldevelopment says:

    Firstly, Alzheimer disease is a form of degenerescence of the brain – it is an “old age disease”. It is only exceptional that it gets to show any signs of degenerescence as early as 30-40.

    Secondly, it affects people who have a rather inflexible attitude to life: those with strong personalities, unable to adjust and make any kind of concessions – it is for the mind what would be for the body to keep your muscles in a continuous tension for life. Modern medicine should start viewing and representing disease as a whole imbalance throughout the system: body-mind-soul, not just as a malfunctioning organ.

    Depression and other malfunctionings of our mind are so hard because it is the mind itself, the “command center” that’s not under control. If you read Jung – a swiss psychiatrist, the father of modern depth psychanalysis, of complexes and Meyers – Briggs personality – types among many orher things (he is currently kept swept under the carpet by mainstream cognitive psychology because he is a “mystic”, in their opinion) he pretends that, with depression, it is the soul that is diseased, and not the brain) he concludes, out of his sixty years of medical practice that depression is a natural mechanism that our system uses to break down a mal-adjusted personality (we all have that, in the idea that we have no idea of who we really are, what is the unconscious content of our psyche), in order to rebuild it in a more adaptable form; shift it from an ego-centered personality to a Self-centered one: a pesonality that embraces the being in all its aspects, focussed primarily on the real, true Soul. He calls this “metanoia”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. proudmummabear says:

    I agree with ‘journey’… Lauren Hayley is a beautiful name (clever me!!). It was neither shock or nerves that made me laugh, it was understanding. I have said many times that if you suffered from something ‘visable’ then it wouldn’t be so hard for others to comprehend what you have to deal with on a daily basis (myself included at times I hate to admit) and you wouldn’t have to ‘fight’ so much just to be heard. Love you baby girl xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. C says:

    I can relate as well. About 3 years ago I was suffering from a rather rapid neurological decline and was sent from one specialist to the next. At first they thought it was Wilson’s disease, then Huntington’s. This was based purely on the symptoms. It would later be found that I was having a severe reaction to a medication that I had been on for some time, ironically for the severe depression. The irony is in that when they thought it was Wilson’s disease, my first thought/feeling was relief. Finally – something that would remove me from this world and broken mind that I’ve been trapped in for the entirety of my life that people could at least accept. I was suicidal. I still am about half the time, but I’ll not go through with it. It’s that feeling, though – that such a statement as “I wish I had cancer,” that really sums it up. If you’re not familiar with Huntington’s disease, it’s a horrific condition that takes years to finally kill you. I’d rather have that than unrelenting depression any day. Some days I keep a pulse for myself. Other days, more frequently, I keep a pulse for the sake of others.


  6. lifeofmiblog says:

    Thanks for the post, I too know that place in the head you talk of. It’s 2am here, went to bed at 11.30pm but my mind is a treadmill of thoughts, hope you get some sleep.


  7. magickmogwai says:

    I defiantly want to watch this movie. It seems to have effected you very deeply.

    I also understand the desire to have an illness people understand and sympathise with. The thought ‘cancer would be easier’ has gone through my mind because it’s better understood, treatable in many cases, and there is an end to it whether good or bad. I often have suicidal thoughts for that same reason – because then there would be an end to it.
    I guess a lot of people who suffer with ongoing physical and mental illnesses are the same in that respect – always waiting for an end to the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      I would definitely recommend watching it – it’s a fantastic film. I feel strangely comforted and sad at the same time with that comment, it’s nice to know other people feel the same as me but it’s horrible to know that you’re having to go through feeling the same as me!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Salvageable says:

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I get it too. It’s like when I have chest pain and think it might be a heart condition; then I belch and the pain goes away, and I’m disappointed. The feeling stinks, but it’s part of the larger condition. Having a family member attempt suicide woke me up to my need to get help for myself; like you, I find it hard to watch a movie or TV show where the topic of suicide is broached.
    Best wishes!


  9. bleuchleo says:

    Not to diminish the devastating effects of cancer, it truly is a terrifying disease; but for me, treatment for Breast Cancer is way easier than treatment for Dysthymia and Panic Attacks. Most people don’t get that my brain is way more lethal than my breast- at least for now. And I do hope it stays that way.


  10. My Annoying Brain says:

    Hi Lauren, thanks for liking my post. I’m new to this whole blogging business. Yours looks great, I followed. I can’t believe how many people are suffering from similar problems across the world and yet they feel so alone.

    Haven’t seen the movie but will definitely check it out, especially after reading this post. I’ve said the same about cancer myself, my parents have said the same about me, and it sounds horrible and wrong. But like others here said, there seems to be a clearer path to follow in terms of treatment, it will end one way or another, and there’s more understanding in society. Cancer is more seizable. It means bad luck, bad things happen to good people. You instinctively know it can’t be ‘thought away’. But that does seem to be an option for mental illness. And there’s some truth to that too, just not as much as people assume.

    Anyway, this is a controversial subject, but an important one. I think wishing for cancer (I mean, who the hell does that) is a clear sign of how frustrating mental illness can be. Thanks for opening up about it.


  11. barefoot witch says:

    It’s a terrible disease. My mom had fairly early onset in her late 60’s. It is horrific and heartbreaking to watch someone’s mind just slip away. That movie was hard to watch, but it’s easy to see why Julianne Moore won an Oscar. It’s also interesting to watch Kristen Stewart take on complex roles.

    Liked by 1 person

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