When Art Reflects Real Life

Warning: Contains SPOILERS of Modern Love Season 1 Episode 3 “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am”

If you’re caught up on your binging game, you know that Modern Love is one of the top shows to binge on Amazon Prime. A good friend suggested this show, and since I’m currently homebound due to TSW and am now a self-proclaimed TV Show binging expert, I just had to check it out.

Trying to appear normal

Being a female in my 30s with a disability, this episode immediately caught my attention. The lead female, played by Anne Hathaway, has been struggling with her bipolar diagnosis her entire life. Just like myself, the main reason she is struggling with her illness (other than the obvious fact that the illness itself is a beast to quell) is because she is doing her utmost best to maintain this “normal-functioning” persona rather than admit that she needs an empathetic ear.

Dating with a disability

What I absolutely love about this episode is that they view her disability through the lens of dating. A mainstream TV show addressing the issues of dating with a disability? Yes, please! There are so very many boy-meets-girl, boy-meets-boy/girl-meets-girl stories out there in all forms of media. But, how many address the issue of having a disability?

When media reflects real life

Dating is already an exciting and complicated game. Throw in disability and you now have multiple layers to navigate. According to the World Health Organization, disabled persons make up about 15% of the world’s population. That means that there are over a BILLION people who are disabled and going about their daily lives on this earth. It’s about time that the media catches up, because art truly reflects real life and vice versa! I especially applaud Modern Love for taking on the seemingly “unsexy” subject of disability and having it collide head-on with the very sexy subject of dating to create an unapologetically raw, honest, and emotional piece of live art.

Seeing life through rose-colored glasses

Nearly 2 minutes into the episode, Hathaway has my attention - she’s in a sparkly rose sequined top with shoulders pronounced by what I hope is fake fur (both in blushing tones, no doubt a rosy ensemble to go with her obvious view through rose-colored glasses) shopping in a supermarket in the early morning hours, absolutely glowing under the fluorescent lights with a full smile, perfect blow out, and full-but-classy makeup. As she tells you about this great, no-magical morning she had a few years ago, your eyes and ears just eat up the scene, taking her in as she confidently glides through her musically-styled and re-imagined reality.

Flare free and looking good

I know this feeling. This is exactly how I feel when my eczema flares are non-existent, or at least down to the bare minimum. This is how I feel after a lovely and relaxing shower: squeaky clean, old skin and flakes gently scrubbed away, and new skin luxuriously moisturized. Dressed in a super cute outfit and heels, going out with my girls to one of our favorite classy restaurants. Or meeting a date, depending on the night.

Miss feeling confident

That feeling of being on top of the world, my confidence at its peak, as if I’m the most beautiful lady in the room. And as we stroll through the perfect summer night air, the darkness of the evening masking any imperfections of my eczema, it’s as if anything I touch comes alive. I know that feeling. I miss it. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve had that feeling. When something like that has been absent from your life you just miss it that much more.

Flare out of nowhere

So, when Hathaway dances through those aisles and parking lot into the arms of a handsome, confident man, I’m with her. I’m absolutely with her. And after a long, but perfect day at work, when she gets home and climbs into bed, her mood completely changing within moments, I’m also with her.

I’m with her, lost in the sea of sheets on her bed, crying myself to sleep because the flare that I thought was under control decided to give me a surprise visit. Now my fingers are dancing across my skin - not a joyous dance, but a tortured one, tearing at my flesh. The taste of celebratory wine still on my lips momentarily confuses me, reminding me that one of my most joyous memories happened just moments ago with my girls. And now here I am, confetti-like dead skin flakes bursting on the scene as I rip my dress off of my body. The trail from the door leads to the pile at my feet. The moisturizer from earlier only provided me with a false, temporary window of comfort.

Ups and downs of disease

The reality of living with bipolar disorder is so similar to living with severe eczema. You can be seemingly fine and dandy for a few hours, and then suddenly, without warning, you’re not. Try wrapping your head around that and living with it day in and day out. Then imagine throwing a person into that mix. A person who fell for that really cute and confident version of you. Now you have to share this other insecure, scared part of you. Well, you don’t have to. But if you want to date, you will have to eventually. You can put on a front for a little while, but that gets exhausting.

Thank you, Amazon for taking on such an important story to tell. I hope this show garners the accolades it deserves and brings about the important conversations and discussions we all need to be having about our health.

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