A Shared Journal

A Review and a bit more: Brain on Fire

It took me a long time to do this review because it hit me pretty close to home. This post will be a little bit more than a review.

Brain on Fire is a movie based on the true story and book Brain on Fire My Month Of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. She writes her battle with her own mind as she waits for a diagnosis. It is an absolutely compelling story of human strength and resilience and also highlights the flaws in our perception of healthcare for the mind.

Be prepared with a box of tissue because this is a movie we can all relate to. I asked a few of my friends and family to watch it as I felt a little exposed because of all the symptoms she was showing and her struggle to try to tell anyone that something was not right.

I can honestly say that this movie depicts and most accurately describes what my brain goes through before and after seizures and complications from brain damage caused by Multiple Sclerosis. The hardest part to watch in this movie was the confusion and the withdrawal she goes through. I have felt this first hand. It’s a slow decline where I would notice I was “spacing out” and couldn’t focus on my computer screen. To this day when there are a lot of noises and people it can overwhelm me and I literally can’t understand what anyone is saying although they are speaking perfect English. Over stimulation and stress can leave me so confused I become bedridden for days from brain exhaustion. To be so misunderstood as “lazy” “bitchy” etc. my entire life only to find out that my complaints were more than legitimate. The brain damage caused by MS is irreversible and equivalent to a traumatic blow to the head, only nothing externally has happened. Like in the movie, when your own brain is sick and injured it is the worst feeling of loss, confusion and frustration any being can go through. I will also agree with the recovery process. It is a long and ongoing travel to a full recovery and I’ve learned how to adapt to some of my inabilities. I can tell you first hand, it is not easy relearning how to do basic things like walking, writing and learning to trust your own mind even though it has failed me time and time again. I have to tell myself daily who I am, how many kids do I have, who my family members are.

The impact her condition caused on her entire family is also a very difficult thing for me to watch. I still struggle with not wanting to ask for help for fear of burdening my loved ones. I accept that I do have positive people around me who do enjoy helping me and it’s not so bad asking for help.

It is so important that I share my personal journey because I see it every day. More and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, BiPolar disorder, Depression… it’s overwhelming and terrifying to know and feel that you are losing your mind and you don’t know why or what is real.

I wish I could tell you that everyone is helpful and that everyone is understanding and kind, but that is what Hollywood is for. I’ve experienced bullying, abuse, disbelief.. the truth is not everyone is kind and looking out for your best interests. Some family and friends didn’t believe me when I said I felt like I was dying. I’ve been called a liar, a “great actress”, “she’s not really sick” and once the initial shock of the diagnosis, I was still told there’s nothing wrong and I need to get over it. I look back on how wrongly I was treated and I think about those who remain trapped in their minds and lose their ability to even verbalize how they feel before they even get close to a proper diagnosis. All of the negative parts of finding a diagnosis are born out of ignorance and there is a quick cure for that. Knowledge.

I highly recommend this movie found on Netflix and I hope it helps you to understand how to navigate through finding a diagnosis for yourself. I hope it also helps you understand how complex the disease of the mind is. It is a terrifying and life threatening road that many don’t make out of alive. Susannah Cahalan received the cure in time and this movie leaves a lot of promise for future research and cures for brain diseases.

My next stop will be to pick up the book!

Hope you enjoy the movie!

Much love,

SS

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A Shared Journal

Review: Evil Genius

This documentary series is one of the best ones Netflix has released. It raises intriguing questions like if someone is mentally ill are they capable of murder? Could love and obsession be the driving force in this case? The beheading of the victim was not necessary, how could they “ok” that? How did it get so far?

It took me on a psychological journey, complete actual footage of the victim’s death. I remember, back in 2003 watching this on the News. Evetyone just stood watching him. You feel so helpless listening to this man crying out to them that he can hear this ticking bomb going and all the policemen could do is stand around with their guns out and just wait for something to happen. It was such a tragedy to watch and for the families to even get the news through the media.

One of the most astonishing points of the series was when the several law departments scattered all over the place were more concerned about who was in charge rather than who committed the crime!

I’m so intrigued by this story and wonder if there is another season in the making. Until then, make sure you add this show to your summer nights when you want a bit of creepy intrigue.

Let me know your thoughts!

Happy Watching

SS

A Shared Journal · Movie and Series Reviews · Reviews

Review: I Am Jane Doe

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I’m always on the look out for some really great movies and documentaries on Netflix and I’ve always found little hidden gems on this streaming network.  I haven’t been disappointed so it’s safe to say that Netflix has given me pretty good recommendations as per my profile.  This documentary, “I AM JANE DOE”, was one that immediately caught my eyes.

The documentary is ultimately dark and a sad truth of the reality these day.  All the freedom to explore and have great experiences all at your fingertips.  The internet has become a double-edged sword for us all, some good and some bad.  If you are on the internet at all, you already have experience be it sharing family outings to being trolled by some random stranger.  This movie is not the romantic side of the internet, but it shows the very real horrors of being on the internet.

Human trafficking.  Just those two words together is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl, but unfortunately it is a very real epidemic that doesn’t just happen in third world countries. It seems like our North American lives turns a blind mind towards the realities of Human Trafficking.  Believe it or not, North America is a haven for kidnapped children who are then sold to the long awaited customers.  In this day and of age of 2017, our children are not only being kidnapped and ripped from our parental arms, but our children are at risk every moment of every day.

After watching this movie you will not only hug your children a lot more, but you will be also empowered to be proactive with your children.  No one is really protected on the internet.  It’s no different than being exposed to the same crimes out in public.  Unfortunately, money talks and politicians are easily swayed from doing the right thing to doing what is easiest.  The truth is that we are on our own, we can’t ask the government for help when they have no answers.  We have to educate ourselves and our children and although we are very “free” we will always be an arms length from harm.  Our complacency leaves our children in very real danger.

I encourage you to watch this documentary and use it as a tool to protect those that you love.  Predators don’t hide in the shadows anymore, they hide in plain sight through the internet.  Protect your babies by educating them and yourself, that’s the first defence.

SS

A Shared Journal · Movie and Series Reviews · Reviews

Movie Review: The Founder

This is a great rags-to-riches story. A lot of people don’t know that the McDonalds corporation is actually based on realty deals and land purchases. The movie takes you on a journey through the ups and downs of growing a business.

There are twists and turns that organically develop emotionally with family and friendships. Ruthless business decisions are aggressively made showing the destruction of a lot of relationships. I love business development it’s exciting and fun yet filled with some hard decisions.

They say business is like swimming with sharks, it could be true in many cases, however in my years of diving in and out of corporate life things always even itself out.

Everything that crumbles will be rebuilt. Everything wrong will be made right. Things may seem bleak and even cutthroat but maybe we have to be challenged in order to push ourselves passed the tough times.

Watch it on Netflix

SS

A Shared Journal · Reviews

What I’ve been watching

I’ve been watching “The Super” on Netflix. I didn’t even know this series existed. I am completely addicted to it!

It shows the day to day life of a property manager and it’s great!

There was a time in my entrepreneurial dreams that I wanted to buy an apartment, after watching a few episodes of this series, I’m not gonna ✋🏼

If you have Netflix watch it!

You won’t be disappointed 😊❤️

A Shared Journal · Movie and Series Reviews · Reviews

Movie Monday – As Above So Below

I have been running around getting organized for Christmas.  Last Saturday was spent celebrating birthdays, food, family and friends.  I’ve got a lot of “F’s” in my life and I am loving it!

By Sunday night I was ready for a calm evening watching a movie.  Scrolling through all the recent additions, I came across the movie As Above So Below.

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This movie contained every one of my fears:  Claustrophobia; Phasmophobia; and Coulrophobia.. that’s a lot of phobias in one movie.  I screamed and I literally hid under my pillow watching it.  I was terrified!  I was in fetal position by the time it was finished.

In short, it was a great horror-thriller movie with great action and realistic moments that I was screaming at the television.  I highly recommend watching this movie if you have anything close to the phobias I have.

Enjoy!

SS

A Shared Journal · Movie and Series Reviews · Reviews

Netflix Review: Orange is the New Black

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After waiting many nail-biting months, I was naturally ecstatic and binge watched the entire season for 2 days.  I refrained from writing about this season long enough!

With the Season 4  trailer starting off my visual journey of this series, I was so pumped!  I called and messaged all my best friends from Canada to the US that the season was out.  We were all excited and I even put every gadget I had on mute and tweeted that I was busy watching the series.. *note to self:  don’t do that, because everyone will bother the hell out of me anyways..

The first episode started off with great energy and events that twisted the plots to everyone’s story.  The brilliance of this series is that it gives each character depth with each intricate story.  The personalities are fierce and there is a realism in each of their stories.

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Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) finds herself in uncharted territories with the realization that her mother, Aleida Diaz (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is released early.  She desperately tries to find her place among the other inmates.  Dayanara captured my heart from day one with her innocent-not-so-innocent demeanour.  The progression of her character is organic and realistic from innocent to naive to fierce!

Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), as an actor I’ve enjoyed Laura since her early beginnings in That 70’s Show, now many moons later it’s like a breath of fresh air to see her acting abilities and the range of emotion she captures in her character.  With her tough, no-nonsense personality this fourth season brought out a vulnerable side in her that draws you, as a viewer, in.  Alex certainly keeps the proverbial pot stirring.

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) has changed so much with every season, it seems that as her counterparts get more vulnerable Piper gets smarter and dare I say tougher.  She managed to manipulate her way to the “top” of the inmate food chain doing what she does best, using her entrepreneurial skills.  I find her both tragic and endearing.

Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba), this is my favourite character, she translates her thoughts in a juvenile way, yet gives me the impression that she is really a genius.  Her childlike character makes you instantly empathize with her current and past experiences.  In this new season, you slowly get to see her naivety disappear, it is intriguing, sad, but believable.

Galina “Red” Reznikov (Katherine Kiernan Maria “Kate” Mulgrew) the self-proclaimed “Mother” of the prison continues to show her strengths as a leader but in this season reality sets in for this inmate of many years.  Red continues to keep her eyes on Piper and Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and treats them like her children among the other choice few.  She runs her position and her heart with an iron fist, however we witness a deterioration of her will.  She begins to break down emotionally.

I can go on and on all night about all the stories and plot twists!  Just like Season 3, this new Season 4 leaves me wanting more!  It seemed to end just as fast as it started with even more cliffhanging stories.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you fire up your Netflix and prepare for a Orange is the New Black Season 4 marathon.  It delivers the promise of drama, action and the best plot twists you could only expect from a novel.

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