“I’ve gotten used to ignoring them, but they are there. I think as a result of my ignoring them is that they have given up on me. I think that is what it is like with all our dreams and nightmares. We must keep feeding them in order for them to stay alive.”
Russel Crowe (John Nash) film “A Beautiful Mind”
“A Beautiful Mind” is one of my favorite movies and is a movie that truly helps me with chronic pain. Spoiler alert if you have not seen movie….stop reading and watch “A Beautiful Mind” then come on back. This film is based on the true story of John Nash, a mathematical genius whom suffered from Schizophrenia. For the first half of the movie one does not know he has Schizophrenia and truly one believes he has three people in his life that he speaks with and considers his friends/bosses. Viewers truly believe he is working for the government in an underground project that requires the expertise of Professor John Nash. It is not until he is sent to the hospital (a mental hospital) that we learn the three people in his life do not exist. His best friend, a little girl, and a man whom works for the government are all figments of his imagination: but they are very real to him. His wife, Angela Nash is shocked when she enters their garage to find him surrounded by newspapers taped to the walls, floor and ceiling covered in what appears to be a mathematical equation. She is crying: “john, what are you doing? This is not real. They are newspapers. You do not work for the government. Please stop.” He is unable to and they begin arguing and later John Nash begins electric shock treatments to rid his mind of Schizophrenia. He is also placed on a ton of medications which have serious side effects that leave him depressed, lonely, angry, bored, with no interest in his wife or life in general. It is as if he is in a coma, just going through the motions. A huge switch happens when John decides to manage his invisible illness without medications or treatments. Keep in mind, this was decades ago and Schizophrenia was not yet well treated as it can be today. Clearly, we no longer use electric shock therapy and our medications have changed dramatically for the better for those who suffer from this tragic invisible illness. However, the correlation of John Nash’s approach to managing schizophrenia without any treatments or medications and how I manage chronic pain is astonishing. Please, re-read this beautiful quote above Professor John Nash said about ignoring his “friends” and not feeding them.
Chronic Pain is the same for me. It is always there. I have worked very hard for many years in order to not allow my focus to go to pain as much as my mind pulls me there every day. Most of the time, I am able to not think about pain but there are times on “difficult days” that those little demons begin controlling my thoughts and my life. John Nash won a Nobel Prize in 1994 for his work. He loved mathematics and was not only brilliant but beyond strong. On May 23rd, 2015 John and his wife Alecia Nash died in a car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. They were on their way home from one of John’s speeches as he never allowed his invisible illness to destroy his dreams nor control his life. His wife, Alecia supported her husband in some of his darkest, scariest hours and never gave up on him. This is a true loss in our world. John Nash was a hero and not for his unbelievable skills in mathematics but for his strength in managing Schizophrenia. I urge you to watch this film even if you have seen it. It truly helps me with chronic pain. There is a scene at the end of the movie that is so profound that I always rewind it. Mr. Nash played by Russel Crowe is walking into the college where he is a professor and his “three friends” are waving to him begging him to go with them. Professor Nash takes a few seconds, looks at them and one thinks he is going to walk over to them but he shakes his head and says goodbye.
I admire John and Alecia Nash more than you could imagine because of their strength, love, support, and teachings.
“I’ve made the most important discovery of my life. It is only the mysterious equation of love that any logic or reasons can be found.”