Joaquin Phoenix’s stars in “The Joker.”

Joaquin Phoenix’s stars in “The Joker.”             

Kevin Lewis

Kevin Lewis

With the recent success of DC/Warner Brothers movie ‘Joker’, audiences worldwide are getting a realer than expected look into the toll of mental


Eschewing a flashy oversaturated comic book color palate and large-scale

cinematography, in favor of dirtier, grimier hues and intimately-smaller camera work, Joker plunges audiences into an 80's era New York City literally littered with garbage and despair.

This isn’t The Avengers.

The realism works in tangent with the themes of the movie: loneliness, classism, and most importantly how mental illnesses are affected by and because of these concerns.

The overriding theme of how mental illness is treated like a fringe problem: out of sight, out of mind.

Those with mental illness, however, are far from outsiders, despite being commonly made to feel this way. Most of us even know people suffering with mental conditions through friends, family, acquaintances, etc.

As such, the movie leaves you asking multiple questions about mental disorders, one of which is how do we/should we treat individuals who have them?

I’d like to offer some ideas towards an answer to this in a bit, but first a story...

My family and I know several who are suffering with or surviving through these health issues.

My wife and I specifically though, have a friend we’ve known for over a decade, who has been struggling to deal with multiple mental problems.

While she may continue to run through a common cycle of hospitalization, medication, and improvement, she will likely continue this way or until she can help herself stay on track.

Nonetheless, we continued diligently to help however we could, unfortunately we came to the realization that we as her friends can’t fix her -- we’re not trained to do so.

What we did realize is that the best we can do is be there, with an ear to

listen and/or support: that’s how you can help them also.

Despite the conclusion of our experience with our friend, she still thanks my wife and I for being there to help when we were, to this day.

It’s not a question of if you now someone similar, it’s just being there for those you know who can truly benefit from your presence, your listening to them, and most importantly your prayers.

And again, you can’t be their therapist or their doctor, you’re not

qualified. As their friend, family, acquaintances, etc. however, you more than fit the bill to help support them through their struggle in other ways.

Continue being the person you have always been with them, keep them from being lonely, talk to them when you can, be with them when your able to be, and let them know your there for them.

It’s been said that “no man is an island” and “no one makes it through this world alone”--make sure you remind them of that.

In doing so, you might just become all the hero they may ever need, the hero they deserve.

Kevin Lewis, Homestead, writes for the SDNL.

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