John and I took my eldest sister and my mother to see a movie called "Pack Up Your Sorrows." It was an excursion since we had to drive to Rochester to see it. It was part of this year's "ReelMind Festival" sponsored by (among others) the Rochester chapter of NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness). This movie promised to be about bipolar disorder and I thought it would help all of us continue to process what living with this disease means.
Turns out it was the world premier of the film. You can see a trailer here.
The movie is the story of one person's struggle with bipolar, Meg Hutchinson, a folk singer and songwriter. As she told her story she weaved into it interviews with folks who know a lot about this and other mood disorders. It was, in the end, quite good.
If there was anything wrong it was not something Meg could help, and that was there was little or no talk about relapse, something which is very much part of my story (Meg is still quite young and will probably get a chance to experience this for herself).
The title of the movie comes from an old folk song, "Pack Up Your Sorrows," originally sung by Richard & Mimi Farina. You can listen to them singing it here. The song has been sung by many others over the years, including Peter, Paul &; Mary, and Johnny Cash.
The words are worth seeing.
No use crying, talking to a stranger,
Naming the sorrows you've seen
Too many sad times, too many bad times,
And nobody knows what you mean.
Ah, but if somehow you could pack up your sorrows,
And then give them all to me.
You would lose them, I know how to use them,
Give them all to me.
No use rambling, walking in the shadows,
Trailing a wandering star.
No one beside you, no one to hide you,
Nobody knows where you are.
No use gambling, running in the darkness,
Looking for a spirit that's free.
Too many wrong times, too many long times,
Nobody knows what you see.
No use roaming, lying by the roadside,
Seeking a satisfied mind.
Too many highways, too many byways,
And nobody's walking behind.
For me what the song tries to express is the absolute necessity of community in getting through the hard times. The refrain is something I think Jesus would say. It is also how my John has tried to be for me, and me for him. It's about family pulling for each other, friends, church communities, etc. who know with certainty only that the struggle continues for all of us. I have often said to my congregations that the life of faith is not about any certainty other than that one. When the struggle is hard and faith is something hard or even impossible to hold onto, I need others who will hold on for me whether they understand what I am going through or not.