‘Flight from Darkness‘ is an excellent documentary on bipolar disorder. Charting the Canadian mathematician Percy Paul’s battles with the debilitating symptoms of bipolar disorder, the film-maker presents an intelligent, well-balanced and informative overview of the course of one man’s illness.
The protagonist in the film is a very bright, articulate, well-educated and compassionate character. He talks candidly about his struggles with alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and relationship difficulties. The film accompanies Percy through periods of mania, depression and relative wellness and in doing so brings to the fore the difficulties faced by bipolar patients in attempting to lead a normal and productive life. Percy’s main downfall appears to be his inability to consistently take his medication; the devastating results of his failure to do so are glaringly obvious to the outsider looking into his often chaotic and disordered life.
What shines through though, is Percy’s love for his children (who live with his ex-wife) and the existence of a network of family that care very much for his well-being, but that are often at a loss to help. Such a feeling of helplessness will no doubt resonate profoundly with many carers who live with a loved one who is afflicted by this complicated and often misunderstood disease.
Percy is an incredibly talented individual – a trait that seems to be rather common in bipolar disorder sufferers and a topic that has been exhaustively researched by the psychologist Prof. Kay Redfield Jamison, and persuasively presented in her magnificent book, ‘Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament‘. A bipolar sufferer herself, Redfield Jamison is featured in a ‘Flight from Darkness‘ discussing an illness that she knows intimately.
This film is a ‘must see’ for anyone who suffers from bipolar disorder, their carers, family, friends and employers. You can watch the full-length documentary here, courtesy of youtube: