Patsy stayed with me and my now ex-husband for a period of time when this documentary was being filmed. (It was filmed partly in our home, where our consent to film was never asked for, despite the fact that Patsy was a house guest and definitely not on the lease. Was that even legal? I really don't know, but it annoyed me.) Honestly, I don't see why she needed to be the subject of a documentary. The most distinctive aspects of her life seemed to be her grim health issues and her indie-scene hobnobbing. Chicago and New York both have an endless parade of scenesters and would-be artists, so what really makes her exceptionally compelling, her missing internal organs? Those facts would excite only the most puerile interests.
I also fail to see any courageous struggle on her part, just continuous compulsive self-indulgence and endless rumination on her days partying with an assortment of indie celebrities, whose names she dropped with great satisfaction. That wouldn't be enough to still make me angry years later. Her unending arrogance and condescending manner were also incredibly off-putting. She seemed to expect everyone in the house to be always at her disposal, although my now ex-husband and I didn't know her, had never even met her until she moved in. Right away she gave us instructions on how to take care of her medical problems (the nature of which I only found out as she was moving in), and proceeded to make herself the central focus of the household. She lacked an esophagus, a stomach, and much of her intestines from her suicide attempt, but these details did not get in the way of weeks of binge drinking (through the stomach tube).
I tried to have patience, tried to be kind, but it was clear from the beginning she should be living in an actual clinical setting, not the home of strangers, laypeople who were trying to lead their own lives. A friend of hers moved in with us along with her, and he did try to take some care of her (although not as much as he'd promised), but naturally, we were pulled into her chaos. My ex and I were planning our wedding and our future, both of us working full time. This didn't seem to matter very much to her and any problem we attempted to discuss with her was generally met with condescension and/or a tantrum. One example- although she couldn't eat, she still enjoyed the taste of food, so she would chew it for the flavor and spit it out. Some of that food belonged to us, and she, in a fairly snotty tone of voice, refused to replace that food. She didn't have to work to earn the money she had for food, so she thought we were petty. We weren't petty, just poor, so missing food was a little important to us.
Also, her drunken states at times resulted in her cornering some of our friends and rambling at them in a grotesquely slurring voice, sharing very personal details, until they were deeply uncomfortable. You cannot expect anyone and everyone to be available as a therapist, and not everyone needs to be privy to your personal horrors. We had agreed to allow her to stay with us for about three weeks until she could find a more permanent place, as she had just moved back to Chicago. Three weeks turned into about four months, and her behavior never really improved. She did quit drinking near the end, although the drunken behavior turned into insufferable sanctimony. My patience dwindled. Any compassion I felt for her melted into constant aggravation, and we had to ask her to find another place to live. Again, she probably needed to be looked after by professionals in a clinical setting, not hanging out in the private home of people who barely knew her.
Let me conclude with this- I also have bipolar disorder, along with an anxiety disorder. I understand the purgatorial struggle of coping with mental illness. And she's not the only other bipolar person I have known in my life. I understand, I GET IT. But what I saw was someone failing to take any genuine responsibility for managing her own condition, and that is vital to living an even remotely functional life, especially when you throw these dire physical problems into the mix. It's also vital to keep in mind how you relate to the people around you and how your behavior is going to affect them. When you expect the rest of the world to feel an obligation to take care of you and put up with your behavior without complaint, that's not just being bipolar. That's called entitlement, and this is what I saw in her actions. If she has since learned to manage her life better over the years, kudos to her. If she really cannot take care of herself, I hope she is in at least some type of assisted living program and not in someone's home, unless they are fully dedicated to taking proper care of her. We couldn't do it, and it just made for an emotionally toxic living environment for all of us in that apartment.
Reading about this documentary made me recall what was a very stressful time. To be fair, I'm sure she wasn't exactly bursting with joy over it, either. But I felt as though her life, her problems, and the filming of this documentary just ran roughshod over my home and my personal peace, and that my feelings over a situation that should never have involved me, but caused me a lot of disruption, were disregarded. I know there is a possibility these words will get back to Patsy. Fair enough, I stand by what I wrote and that is the end of the matter for me.
Besides, as she said, "I can't care about what other people think."
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