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When Harvard PhD student Jennifer Brea is struck down at 28 by a fever that leaves her bedridden, doctors tell her it's "all in her head." Determined to live, she turns her camera on herself and her community, a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME, commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome.
Sad but you don't regret watching it. Fascinating.
There were so many times during this film that I cried. It's not just about Brea and her husband; there are several other ME/CFS patients you get familiar with, all unique and relateable people. You get to see the variety of ME life. Not just who they are now but who they used to be when they were free to design their life as they wanted.
It's never directly stated but the contrast of old home movies of the patients and voiceovers about scepticism... clearly these people were happy & driven before they got sick. They don't look like people who were headed to a nervous breakdown or other hypochondria. They seem to be energetic, driven, happy people. The idea that ME is a psychosomatic issue is shown to be nonsense.
As a spoonie I laughed to recognize a dozen or so "miracle cures" Brea tries that I've tried too. Awkward moments she had that I've had too (and felt like I was the only weirdo on earth to go through it). For anyone with chronic illness it's a validating movie, seeing that we're not alone.
I think this movie would be a great way for someone who is acquainted with a spoonie but not close enough to them to see their 24/7 life. Cousins, coworkers, classmates... this could help them understand. I think it would be a great addition to any class on disability discrimination, like to teach medical professionals or social workers to put themselves in the shoes of a sick person.
Brea and her guy are a very sweet couple, heartwarmingly devoted. And they're very educated & charming & good looking. It's easy to watch them discuss their life. The message of the film may be a downer but these folks and their friends are so lovable it's actually mostly pleasant to spend the time "with" them. Please don't avoid this movie because you think it will be depressing. It's a fascinating and exciting show, packed with information and very intimate moments. What I was left with was respect for the disabled, desire to see justice for those abandoned by the healthcare system (the research budget for ME is ridiculously small compared to other less life-ruining illnesses!!)... I feel stronger and more motivated to be a good citizen, after watching this. Not depressed, inspired.
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