Friday, December 30, 2011

Finding confidence

While this blog is aimed at assisting people to live confidently with a mental condition I have not as yet spent much time speaking directly about this topic. It is about time that I did.

It was the film The Beaver (2011) I watched recently that got me thinking about it. The lead character Walter Black (played by Mel Gibson) is plagued by depression to such a degree that his life is crumbling around him. To cut a long story short, Walter decides to create an alter-ego in the form of a hand puppet (called Mr Beaver) through whom he communicates to everyone around him.

After initial puzzlement from his family, friends and work colleagues, Walter's life in many ways begins to turn around. Gone it seems is the depressed Walter, replaced by a feisty, confident and friendly Mr Beaver who is able to resuscitate the things Walter holds dearest to him.

For those who have not seen the film I won't spoil it by giving away how things turn out. The point I wish to make is how Mr Beaver demonstrates that the confident and loving father, work colleague and friend that Walter had been still lives inside the broken shell of a man we meet at the beginning of the film.

The good news is we do not need to (and probably shouldn't) create a charming hand-puppet alter-ego to regain our sense of confidence in ourselves. As I mention in my forthcoming article for Bupa's Shine magazine, regaining my own confidence in my competence as a family member and friend was not a case of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but rather a process of finding inspiration and persisting with those things I knew would help rebuild my life which like Walter Black's had been devastated by mental illness.

One thing movies (or any form of art or expression) can do is provide fresh perspective on something that is within one's own experience and even help to crystallise insights not yet realised. The Beaver offered me a helpful third-party perspective on depression - perhaps it can do the same for some who are reading this blog.