Written by Hannah Blum, author of The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love
It was no surprise that my phone was ringing off the hook after Episode 3 of the Amazon Prime Series, Modern Love, came out. I am a woman living with bipolar disorder, and ironically I talk about dating with mental illness often. The episode entitled “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am” is about a woman with bipolar, Lexi, who is struggling to find between her highs and lows. The lead actress in the role of Lexi is Anne Hathaway, which surprised me at first.
I watched every episode of Modern Love but skipped over Episode 3. The truth is it can be exhausting watching shows that portray mental illness in a fictional way. The majority get it wrong, majorly wrong. I just figured this was another one, but then the calls from family and friends came in, “Hannah, it’s you! You have to watch it.” So finally the other night I sat down and watched it. In my opinion, it was the best portrayal of bipolar disorder I have seen. Also, this post could be a bit of a spoiler if you want to watch the episode before reading. Here are 6 Things Amazons Show Modern Love Got Right When Portraying Bipolar Disorder
The Lows Come Out Of Nowhere
People don’t seem to understand the lack of control that those of us living with bipolar disorder have when it comes to the highs and lows. The lows of bipolar disorder, as well as the highs, come out of nowhere. You can drop down at any time no matter where you are, what you are doing, or who you are with. I have had an almost identical experience to Lexi when she curls up on the floor before a date because, out of nowhere, she feels a low surfacing. Some family members reached out to me and said the episode reinforced the fact that I cannot help it when I am distant or hit a low, which emphasized the impact of the show.
When Hathaway says the line, “I need to clean the bipolar out of this place,” I laughed because it’s so true. One of the first things I do after coming out of a low is CLEAN. I clean everything. I get dressed up, do my hair, and it’s like waking up brand new. The messiness of her home when in a low is relatable as well.
Hiding Bipolar From Those Around Us
In your job, in your life, in your social circle, you feel that to even have a shot at a normal life, you must hide your disorder. When Lexi is sitting with her co-worker, Sylvia, at the end of the episode, I was very touched, because Lexi realizes that she doesn’t have to hide from everyone. When you live with bipolar, you are petrified that people will see the other side of you, the one that is not as bright and vibrant.
The Depths Of The Bipolar Lows
At one point in the episode, Lexi hits a deep low where she is asleep for days in her bed. She struggles to answer the phone, she misses work and disconnects. This gives a very accurate idea of what a bipolar low looks like overall. It is hard to answer the phone, text, get dressed, move, open your eyes, or do anything. When Lexi goes on a date with Jeff, her inability to focus and her slow speech was very relatable. Many of us would probably have not even made it down to the date, but I understand to send a sincere message across in 30 minutes, it was necessary.
You Struggle To Hold A Job
Although Lexi has a great career, she cannot seem to hold a steady job. This is the case for so many of us living with bipolar disorder. You fall in and out of lows that keep you from maintaining a steady job, and the worst part is, we live in a society that makes opening up about this almost impossible. The stigma of mental illness keeps so many people from being honest about their condition. Missing work sporadically and for days at a time is common, and I thought the show was spot on in that area.
Yes, There Are Successful, Smart and Vibrant Individuals Living with Bipolar
There is a lot of controversy around portraying people with mental illness as talented or creative, but I’m sorry, the majority are. I take pride in my community. It doesn’t decrease the pain or severity of mental illness. Still, the way our mind and emotions work have the power to make us gravitating individuals. The smartest and most creative people I know all live with bipolar disorder. I was SO happy when the show portrayed this side of mental illness. Usually, it is the opposite, but they showed Lexi’s work ethic during her highs and how she was brilliant and good at what she did.
The Difficulty in Dating with Bipolar Disorder
The show really portrays the difficulty with dating when you live with bipolar disorder. The fear of opening up to someone, when to do it, whether or not to be honest about the highs and lows, the anxiety that comes with judgment is heavily present. As someone who speaks on Dating With Bipolar Disorder, I often felt this was very relatable. In fact, I did a docu episode for WebMD that talks about dating with bipolar disorder.
This is the first time I watched a show that portrays bipolar disorder where I didn’t walk away feeling empty and defeated, and that, for me, was a gift within itself. I applaud Amazon, Anne Hathaway, and the director John Carney.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect, and everyone living with a mental illness will have a different opinion on it. There are varying extremes of mental illness, but overall for a 30-minute show, it did a phenomenal job.
Share your thoughts below in the comment section, what did you think?
At the age of 20, Hannah Blum went from Prom Queen to a mental patient in the blink of an eye, but what she believed would be the end was only just the beginning. In her first book, The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love, Hannah Blum redefines what it means to love yourself and takes readers on an unforgettable journey towards embracing what makes them different.
Featured Image: Anne Hathaway in “Modern Love” Episode 3. (Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios)