We tend to take life for granted. We walk through each day as it is any other with the same worries and doubts as everyone else. The thought of another person’s tragedies and hardships are not our concern; unless of course, those issues are attached to someone we are close to. The state of our mental health system is a concern but not one that is being given enough attention. We have seen in the past how the system has failed individuals who are kept on a steady diet of medication to keep them in line without any real treatment for their disorder being provided.
Mental illness is a very serious topic and the film by Jedd and Todd Wider God Knows Where I Am brings these issues into light in a way I do not think has been approached before or ever. The documentary is about Linda Bishop, a woman who grew up in a normal family with a sister and later went on to have a daughter whom she had a very close relationship with. If only that is where the story could end it would be a happy one. Bishop’s body was found in an isolated home where she had lived for three months unbeknownst to anyone in the area where she survived on apples then later passed away from starvation and extreme cold.
Jedd and Todd’s film I believe is special in the way the material is handled. Linda kept a journal and recorded her day to day events while in hideout; Linda’s story is told through her own words and narrated by Lori Singer. The cinematography does not feel like a normal documentary rather the shots feel like a floating dream. The viewer is gently brought into Linda’s life. Everything is explained and by the end even though we know what happens, myself included, wish there could have been a different outcome.
What is amazing about this film is how Linda got to where she was, alone in a house too afraid to leave because of the demons she feared were following her. Linda was not alone she had a loving sister and daughter. Due to the illness her relationship with her daughter deteriorated and even though her sister tried to help, the court system deemed otherwise, allowing Linda to care for herself without a guardian. The most astounding fact was how the mental institution where Linda stayed released her on her own accord. The reasons cited were since she was her own guardian she refused medication and since she was not taking anything the institution determined there was no other solution for Linda and released her; they did not even notify Linda’s sister of her release.
Immediately upon release is when Linda found the abandoned house that she would soon never leave. Her journals are poetic in that they capture her love of nature and its simple surroundings. Linda through the filmmakers is someone who should have been given better opportunities and treatment. Her life story should not have ended in a cold, empty house forced into starvation welcoming death and telling Jesus to take her home.
Linda unfortunately is one of many cases that runs throughout our country; a statistic at the end of the film states 2.6 million suffer from mental illness and half do not even know they are suffering from it. Life is not to be taken for granted, it is a gift we are given and all that even more if we are lucky to have a “normal” life without struggling with an illness.
3.5 out of 5
Film Releases on Friday March 31st, 2017