01 UNREST Key Art Jen EEG

Unrest: A film You Want Everyone Who Doesn’t Have a Misunderstood, Underfunded Chronic Illness to See!

About 10 days ago my parents and I braved the snow and went to see Jenifer Brea’s award-winning documentary ‘Unrest’ at a showing in a local church hall. Unfortunately, the next day I was hit by a viral crash and I had to abandon my attempt to write the review I’d planned because I simply couldn’t think. Reading through the couple of paragraphs I did write, they hardly make any sense, each sentence I wrote is missing a word or two! Finally, I’ve recovered enough to attempt it again, but sadly the memory just isn’t as fresh!

I have to admit; this film is not the kind of thing that I usually do for entertainment. But as a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign that got the film off the ground I wanted to add my support.

There are two responses I usually see from people who are well enough to publicly respond to this illness. There are the campaigners and there are the healers. I am extremely grateful to the campaigners, of which Jennifer Brea has to be crowned the most influential so far. I’ve been in awe of the way that she has promoted this film and raised awareness of the terrible impact of an illness so misunderstood and underfunded. However, for the most part of the year, I choose to pay little attention to all the pain that needs to be shared in order to get people to sit up and take notice, instead I tend to focus on how we can make the best of things as individuals in the absence of the medical support that we lack. I knew this would be a difficult film to watch for an ME/CFS sufferer, and it was!

This film does an amazing job of sharing the suffering and injustice caused by the way the medical profession as a whole, tend to respond to the impotence of not knowing how to help by passing it along to the psychiatrists! But I found it difficult to experience the suffering that was shared through the film. I am very aware that millions of people are suffering around the world but I don’t like to have to face it, it hurts. It reminds me of my early experiences of ME/CFS before I had learned any coping skills. That was a dark time that I don’t really want to be reminded of. I also found it difficult to hear a doctor tell Jennifer she could be more hopeful of recovery as she’d had it for less than 5 years, as people who’ve had it for more than 5 years might plateau at a higher level of functioning but are unlikely to completely recover.  For a brief moment I was forced to face a reality I did not want to accept. In fact, I choose not to accept it, and choose to believe that I will prove this kind and understanding doctor wrong!

I am sharing my personal reaction not to put you off watching it but so that you can be prepared for how it may impact on your well-being if you do. This is a great film, one I want everybody who is not suffering from a misunderstood and underfunded chronic illness to watch. We don’t need to watch it because we are living it! I’ve spent 14 years learning how to rise above the emotional pain caused by the way this illness and its victims are treated, I knew that watching this film would be a reminder of that pain and it was. But the world at large needs to see it. It’s extremely well done. Tell everyone you know to go watch it. My parents thought it was great!

Image by Jason Frank
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