Category Archives: Shakespeare

A new home for my meds, thanks to Shakespeare

Shakespeare pill boxLike just about everyone I know with a mental illness, I have a love/hate relationship with my meds. But now I have something that helps ease some of the hate — this Shakespeare pillbox.

Recently, I went with some good friends to the Yale Center for British Art. While browsing in the gift shop, I found this. I had to have it.

I’ve loved Shakespeare for as long as I can remember, and I’ve loved him even more since being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Now, I can relate to characters like Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth on an even deeper level than I could before. I know what it’s like to feel melancholy and despair.

On the flip side, just the site of this pillbox makes me smile. I look forward to opening it, and I’ve become much less likely to forget taking my meds. So, thank you, Will. You are helping me “to thine own self be true.”

 


I’m pretty sure Hamlet was mentally ill

I’ve always loved Shakespeare — especially Hamlet. I was 11 when I first saw the film with Sir Laurence Olivier. I didn’t understand a word he said. But I could figure out that Hamlet’s father died. My own father died when I was a baby. This was the first time I saw a movie where someone else’s father had died. I might have needed a translator, but I felt I had something in common with this guy.

I’ve seen many films and theatrical productions of Hamlet, and now I know I have something else in common with him: mental illness. He’s called the Melancholy Dane for good reasons. He can’t make up his mind. He broods a lot. He craves being alone. He thinks constantly about revenge. He’s passive-aggressive (going through the trouble of staging an entire play-within-a-play to get back at his mother and uncle.) He takes orders from his dead father’s ghost.

I could go on and on. But the more flawed Hamlet is, the more I relate to him. And who but Shakespeare could make madness so damned poetic? This scene is from one of my favorite recent incarnations of Hamlet. I usually don’t like to see Shakespeare “modernized,” but in this production, it’s done effectively. Here’s Hamlet (played by Dr. Who’s David Tennant)┬áin all his mad glory.


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