(The following post is not meant, in any way, to be offensive or derogatory towards the field of Economics, schizophrenia, mental illness, etc. )
Since I had taken Economics in A Levels, my Principles of Microeconomics course in university didn’t seem all that challenging at first. I barely paid attention in class, and just read the teacher’s notes when I went home. The first two quizzes were a piece of cake; I got full marks in both. I was lulled into the insanity of thinking I got this.
As with all good things, my fantasy came to an end. How, you may ask? In the form of a forty-mark quiz-but-more-like-a-death-toll. I found myself stumbling through it, flipping my pages back and forth, questioning the formulas my brain produced, all the while thinking Oh gosh.
I felt miserable afterwards. I had spent all of A Levels fumbling in my pursuit of an understanding of Economics, reappearing in my AS and praying desperately throughout my exams. And now, after I had conquered my fears and understood the effort required by this subject, I had let myself fall into that false sense of security again. Only to screw up this colossal quiz.
There are some things we’re good at, for me it is writing. I can write, I can communicate well; words are my forte. I thank God for this gift every day. It is one that I would never be willing to give up. Of course there are some things that we must put a great deal of effort into. For some, it is math, for some it is being nice to your in-laws, for me, it is Economics.
My teacher is the type of man who you will have an opinion about. You may like him, you may not, but you will definitely have an opinion. I happen to have a positive one. He mentioned a movie in class, A Beautiful Mind. He mentioned it once, and I wrote the name down in the margin of my notebook, but when he referred to it the second time, the third time, I made up my mind to watch it. Starring Russell Crowe and a host of other names that are now common Hollywood terminology, this movie swept me away.
The story of a genius mathematician, John Nash, and how he stuck out the odds, was ridiculed for wanting to have an ‘original idea’, how he found that idea, became famous for it, found love most unexpectedly, and faced so much pain and misery. In a twist that the movie-makers do not prepare you for at all, John is diagnosed with schizophrenia. His paranoia makes people think he’s insane. He’s delusional. His college roommate? That guy doesn’t exist. It’s all in his head. All of a sudden, this story of ‘stick out the tough times and thou shalt succeed’ is warped. That guy who had it all? Finished.
We see John Nash strapped in at a psych ward, getting injected, having seizures. We see him transformed into a little boy, a down-syndrome type with awkward movements, shuffling gestures. We see his wife, a beautiful, elegant woman, pained by this hardship, sticking through it. It was this part of the movie that struck me hardest. Perhaps its because someone close to me has been this way. I have seen what ailments of the mind can do to a person, to a person’s life, family, loved ones. The toll it takes is enormous, and to bear it with strength and dignity, to see the person you love crumble into a weakness that words cannot define, is not a simple task. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, hardships, pain.
Jennifer Connely plays Nash’s wife, and her acting was superb.
In the end, John Nash conquers his demons. He faces them day by day, spurns medication whose sole purpose is to numb his mind. He makes a decision not to live as a vegetable and to live life, even if it means fighting a battle every day. He learns to ignore his delusions, and describes it as ‘’an appetite he chooses not to indulge in’’. He goes on to win a Nobel Prize.
I cried when he gave his acceptance speech.
“You are the reason I am here today. You are all my reasons.”
Call me an emotional sap if you’d like. I’ve never been one for romances, but this was a beautiful story.