Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jerry Lewis's appearance on Law and Order

Jerry Lewis has appeared recently on television as the homeless, extremely depressed uncle of one the regulars on Law and Order. I was very impressed by his performance as we all know that Jerry is one of the originals/kings of slapstick comedy. I expected some aspect of his comic side to burst out, but instead he played drama and this particular part very respectfully. He played a person who is medicated with antidepressants which essentially turns him manic, or bipolar, very very well. So much so that one wonders if he in fact does suffer from the condition or he has missed playing dramatic roles of this caliber too much in past that it seems an awful shame. Did it take his older age for those to get offered or did it seem like the public wouldn't accept this side of him? I have not looked up stats - is this guy bipolar and we didn't know? He did a wonderful job.

He hooked into the serious tone of Law and Order quite easily and Husband did not believe or see right from the beginning who he was because of his scrubbiness at the onset. After getting 'cleaned up' after 10 days of antidepressants he looked like himself, albeit much older than his comic incarnations, and Husband said, "Oh, that is Jerry Lewis!"

Jerry's antidepressants turn him into a manic state, eventually into psychosis, as explained to us by the dear doctor on show, and Dr. makes a point of saying in rare cases this can occur. I can tell you right now that I am one of those 'rare cases,' so I was right on it watching what Jerry would do. We see the psychosis clearly, when Jerry's character pushes a deserving criminal into a train, after being convinced (as are the rest of the characters on the show) that this is a very bad man getting away with murder. We know or believe that he would not normally have done this, as he is so remorseful in the end that he says that he deserves to be punished and won't take any further meds. I think the message was also, I don't want to take more meds, look what the idiots (and the meds) did to me in the first place, which to me, though I know the truth of how dangerous it is to give on medication, seems very understandable even to a lay person, since they screwed him up so bad last time.

I don't think I can say too much bad about his performance as he seemed to really tenderly play a person with mental illness, and a good believable bipolar. Of course(I say this because in the public's view its 'only natural'), he commits a crime, but an understandable and thankful one. It was a good nice venue to introduce to the public that in fact, antidepressants can go awry, that while yes they can save a person from the depths of depression they can also carry you right into crazierland, as I know from first hand experience. Difference between me and Jerry's character is that I did not have to commit a crime to get help, just make an arse of myself being crazy and be so bad off that it could not help to be noticed. Hello people, the mentally ill are not outright criminals (I know many, and they are often sweet as pie), but you'd never know it watching T.V. However this venue brought out a lot of great hidden talents in Jerry Lewis and he did a service to our cause. To be so brilliant in a hidden, finally released way seems in itself so much like bipolar.

It would have been nice if there could have been more emphasis in the end on how really beneficial taking meds would be, the right ones designed for, in this case, a person who fluctuates greatly in mood instead the ones strictly for unipolar depression - because the right ones found for a person's specific chemistry are miracle workers! To go from not right, to much more right makes a HUGE difference in a person's life, and if they are going to educate on the supposedly small fraction of people who go from antidepressant to manic, educate that meds can be found to control that irreversible state, and it wouldn't have been so hard to make a more substantial point-out of that on the show. I can't go back to being unipolar, but I can take care of my needs, including the right meds, now that I've reached a new, different stage of illness. Anyway, thanks Jerry for a job well done.

2 comments:

mysti said...

I have always loved Jerry Lewis. I am glad he was able to do such a good job on the show.

HMMMMMM btw now I am craving brownies.....lol I swear I can smell them all the way from your house to mine! lol

Obsidian Kitten said...

OMG! ok, it's like 6 wks later, i'm perusing yr old posts, but i just saw that episode last night!

i was thinking "that sure looks like Jerry Lewis, but it can't be...can it?"--but it was! wow, he was so amazing

i was treated for unipolar for several yrs, disaster...then it took quite awhile to get my meds anything like close to helpful...i don't think they want ppl to know how hit-or-miss treating bipolar still is.

i'm bipolar II with prolonged depressive stages, so they missed the hypomania altogether, until my own mood charts reflected them and at my therapist's urging (she was an older woman, and also bipolar) the shrink and i got it straightened out

my spouse is rapid-cycling/mixed states/bipolar I--I don't think he's ever been on the right meds.

this has been the experience of most bipolar ppl i know...the struggle to find the right meds. i've also had meds works for awhile and then simply poop out on me...hello, hospital! (something else they never warned me about)

but you're right, it was all in all a rly fascinating, pretty sensitive episode. and jerry lewis was effin AMAZING.