“There were moments where I wondered if this was a good idea,” my friend Jodie said as the screening ended. “I was worried about what you might be feeling watching it.”
We were sat in the biggest screen at the BFI last night after a preview of the award-winning documentary “Unrest”. The film, which centres on the experiences of director Jen Brea, shines a spotlight on M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I was diagnosed with M.E in 2005 and have lived through tumultuous highs and lows with the condition ever since. I am currently at the low end of a curve.
“It was hard,” I replied, trying to assemble jumbled thoughts into coherent sentences. “It struck a lot of chords.”
I spent most of the film with tear stained cheeks, so moved by its portrayal of my illness. I cried because I saw my greatest fears, of what my condition could be, raw and painful on the screen. I cried because I saw so many moments that mirrored what my condition has been before; aged sixteen lying on the carpet between the living room and the bathroom because my vision had blacked out and I had lost control of my limbs. I cried for Jen and for the many other individuals’ stories that are told throughout the film. I cried because I was reminded that I’m not struggling alone and yet so many of us are suffering without understanding or support.
Only an outstanding film could capture and evoke so much. Unrest manages to be deeply personal and intimate, whilst also exploring the science and history of M.E with a depth and accessibility I haven’t come across before. The film beautifully portrays a range of experiences with the condition, showing a multitude of ways it is affecting lives around the globe. I genuinely hope, and firmly believe, it can be a powerful catalyst for change.
One of the hardest parts of living with M.E is that it is an invisible disability, so it is so often something it is impossible to convey to others in a way they truly understand. I knew that Unrest had captured it the more Jodie and I talked. Not only did I feel myself reflected in the film, but afterwards I also felt like I was seen.
“It’s scary,” Jodie said as we walked out of the auditorium.
“I know,” I replied.
Unrest is showing in cinemas across the UK and I urge you to go and see it – find out where and when it’s on here and spread the word about the film using the hashtag #timeforunrest.