The Case Files: Silver Linings Playbook

Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in The Case Files | Leave a comment

I don’t really go out to see movies. My philosophy is generally TV > Movies (sorry, movie buffs) and any movie I want to see will be on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video (oh man, I love Jesse’s job). Plus, it’s become increasingly clear over the last few months that I’ve missed out on seeing like 95 percent of all the “greatest” films. I have a backlog.

But, I was going to see Silver Linings Playbook. I sort of knew what it was about, I love Jennifer Lawrence (duh, Hunger Games Case File), and it looked kind of quirky, dark, and romantic, which are probably the top three qualities that I look for in any movie to deem it a favorite. Once it was nominated for an Academy Award, Jesse said he’d go see it. Winner.


HOLY MOLY YOU GUYS. Such (such!) a good movie. I may have some spoiler alerts in here, so don’t read ahead if you’re trying to see it.

So, it won’t be a traditional Case Files because these people aren’t real. What it will be, is a celebration that even if you feel a little off, a little weird, or a little crazy (I have felt all separately or in unison at one point or another in my life) then this movie will give you hope.

The plot follows Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat, after being released from a in-patient hospital after assaulting his wife’s lover, which he discovered after walking in on the two of them mid-coitus, while their wedding song was playing.


So, Pat nearly beats this guy to death and basically has what he later learns is a break with reality as a result of undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Upon leaving the facility, the movie chronicles his experiences in therapy (P.S. I don’t think this is a good representation of a therapist), his battle avoiding meds, his desperation to get his wife back, and his slowly growing relationship with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), whom he befriends because 1) he doesn’t get much choice in the matter, 2) Tiffany can get in contact with his estranged wife (who has a restraining order against him).


Tiffany, is also quite challenged. A widow who lost her husband in an ironic dose of tragedy, she copes by sleeping with anyone she can. Once Pat turns her down for casual sex, she ardently pursues a friendship with him, bartering Pat’s role as her dance partner in an upcoming competition, as a way to justify her assistance in helping Pat win back his wife.

That’s your short summary and I’ll avoid going into any of the more intricate details because I don’t want to completely spoil the movie or detract from how subtle somethings were that I feel really made the movie for me. There’s one scene that I just loved and it made me chuckle and smile from ear to ear.

Pat is visiting his friend’s house for dinner, who happens to be Tiffany’s sister. This is where the two meet. Tiffany knows Pat’s story, but the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Tiffany kind of owns her crazy and immediately begins probing Pat about his past. Pat displays some typical behaviors of someone who is unmedicated bipolar, in that he’s super impulsive, he barely has a filter from thought to words, and he’s just really erratic. The two begin bonding at dinner over which meds they’ve taken, discussing the finer points of Seroquel and Trazadone.

When you’ve worked in an inpatient facility (which I have), you become familiar with these meds. I’ve had countless clients explain the nitty gritty details of taking meds for a variety of reasons, but most of them rejoiced in the way they felt on their meds. Sleeping is easier and being awake is more difficult, but when you’re depressed or going through a tough life transition (death of a husband or new bipolar diagnosis), sleeping a lot has its perks.  It reminded me of my old clients and it gave me a nice warm feeling inside.

The Case File

Straight up, this movie (for me) was a commentary on mental health. Sure, I was looking at it through that lens, but I don’t think the message was lost on others who weren’t. When you realize your mind is different, whether you’re in a tough life transition, you have a mental health diagnosis, or you just feel a little… out of sorts, you immediately begin to worry about the likelihood you’ll lead a normal life and most importantly, find someone who will not only tolerate your quirks, but love you because of them. This movie proves something I’ve known for a long time; we don’t have to have it all figured out to find and feel love. Also, the more we find someone who can understand us, the more likely we are to be happy. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being perfect for each other.

Find someone who can call you out on your stuff and then help you get through it. That’s a partner worth sticking around for.


Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Jobs, Mind | 1 Comment

I am the most impatient person ever. You think you’re more impatient? Fine, let’s have a duel. Oh wait, you lost. I got so impatient for you to answer me, I just decided I won.

Ok, bad example.

I can do certain things. I can wait for tables at restaurants, even if I’m really, really hungry. I can wait for people to finish using the bathroom, because I don’t have much of a choice. I can accept that traffic sucks and I’m stuck and likely can’t go anywhere unless Camille (my car) turns into a hovercraft or a tank. I am perfectly capable of delaying gratification. I would have ROCKED that marshmallow experiment (minus the fact I never liked marshmallows unless they were involved in a s’more).


What I have a really hard time with, is waiting for something that may never come OR enjoying my free time without thinking “OK, what could I be doing right now that is more productive?”

Case in point, I was never a good cat owner. As a kid, I was great at having cats because all kids never get tired and they just run around with string letting a cat chase them. As an adult, I was pretty shabby. Why play with the cat when you can cook dinner? Why play with the cat when you can be sitting down doing anything else because you’re tired? When you’re sitting down and the cat sits RIGHT ON YOU, you have to get up because the cat is preventing you from doing your next [not so] time-sensitive task.


I promised myself I would be better with patience this year. Yesterday’s post is a good example. I’m currently back to looking for some sort of meaningful employment, so I’m waiting for callbacks and I’m currently applying to all jobs that set my heart a-flutter (no one panic, I’m still in private practice). I’m waiting for things that may never come. It’s hard not to check my e-mail 4,528 times a day. Every time the phone rings, I think, “I hope it’s my future job calling!” I’m practicing faith and I’m being optimistic, but faith isn’t necessarily tied-in with patience. Patience is a whole new task.

Patronus teaches me a lot about patience. When I want to relax, he wants to play. When I want to sleep, he wants to eat my toes. When I want to get up and go somewhere, he just plops himself in my lap.

I could just shove him off of my lap, I could ignore his wishes to play (heck, sometimes I do, I’m tired!), but I’m trying to be better and I’m trying to let him teach me how to enjoy the moment. I find when I forget my errands and let him do cute things like this, the reward is much greater. Errands will happen, a job will happen. When it’s time to play, I’ll play. When it’s time to work, I will work. Right now, I get to spend a good chunk of my days with this little furball again and that’s super awesome. Patience might just be good for me after all.



Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Mind, Private Practice, Theory | 2 Comments

I’m practicing yoga again. I found a studio I really like with a free one-week introductory period. Score.

I don’t know if it’s the yoga or the reset button, but I’ve been in a great place mentally. I think I’ve officially let go of a lot of the things I know I can’t control. I don’t even want to control them right now.


Today, my yoga teacher asked us to pick a word for a the intention of our practice. For someone who really likes words, this can be a challenge. A ton of words ran through my head, but I clung to the word “faith”. I went with it and as I sat there askew in revolved triangle, I returned to this word. As I found myself doing poses I never knew I could do, not even worrying if I could do it before trying them out, I returned to this word. It’s been weird finding so much meaning in something that presents itself at face value.

I did a lot of thinking about why I chose faith and why I have been having such a great practice lately. What it is really, I think there’s a sweet spot when it comes to your locus of control.

Too much internal locus, and you often feel like the world is heavy on your shoulders and it’s your responsibility to solve every problem, find a reason for every mistake, and usually it all comes back to believing it’s your fault.

Too much of an external locus of control, and you end up feeling like a victim, like you have no control, like everything is falling through your grasp like you’re trying grip onto water. You usually feel defeated, broken, and angry with the world.

The sweet spot, which I think I realized today, is having faith. It’s trying your hardest to succeed at whatever it is that is before you. It’s working your fanny off to have the career you want, the relationship you want, the friends you want, and the life you’ve dreamed of forever. But faith… faith is recognizing that sometimes things are just out of your control and it’s beautiful anyway. You have faith that good things will happen to you and you believe the bad things are good things in disguise.

You could, however, look at the unknown and mysterious as bad. You could label things that happen to you as bad, unpleasant, or set-backs. Unfortunately, they are going to happen anyway because that’s life. Life has some certainties and a lot of uncertainties. It’s your choice about how you view both of them. Will the certainties feel cumbersome or will they be a fun challenge? Will the uncertainties cause us fear, or will they be welcomed with optimism?

It’s faith. I believe that good things will happen to me because worrying that bad things will happen causes a lot of undue stress in the meantime. If something “bad” happens… oh well. At least I didn’t stress myself about it up until when it happened.

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