Bipolar – a lesson, not a disease

Greg Tanner filming at the Quai 54 streetball ...

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After work today I wanted to chill and ended up watching a film, A Summer in the Cage. The film was a documentary done by a man named Ben.

The story started from Ben trying to film about the street basketball in New York. He met a guy named Sam whom he wanted to work with for the documentary he is trying to film. According to Ben, Sam had a vast idea with regard to the project and got going with him in months.

After some time later, Sam turned into a traitor and decided to work with himself with the project rejecting Ben as his partner… he left Ben without notice, do not accept phone calls from him, do not give back any emails and messages sent by Ben and continued the project that Ben have started by himself.

After couple of weeks, Ben received a phone call from Sam’s friend saying that in the hospital he has been confined because he became bipolar.

Ben started to shift from filming the street basketball to Sam’s life. His mania started to inspire Ben to know more of his past life and started doing some interviews with Sam’s family particularly his mother.

He discovered that Sam’s father committed suicide because he had the same situation as what Sam had – being bipolar. Her mother does not blame anyone for that but she was always hoping that Sam never had mania that will take away the hope in his future as a normal citizen.

While watching the film, I realized that after all what Sam had done to Ben, he was still there for Sam helping him through what he’s been with the mania and in being bipolar. He also shared Ben some of his feelings about the depression he’s going through. He said he used to have  great life in New York, had masters and degrees but now it all turned to rejection, jobless life and loveless living.

Sam did not have his own family although he wanted to. He was afraid that his child might acquire the same bipolarity and decided for himself to stay single. He just had Ben as his faithful friend no matter what. He has been there always for Sam. He is always there for him in just a single phone call, helping him sort things out, flying with him, driving him around and helping him through tough times Sam have had.

However, Sam started to deteriorate and became worse than ever. After six years of being friends with Ben, he started being rude to him asking for more money, threatening him and yelling at him on the top of his lungs over the phone.

Sam was again confined in the hospital because I say he’s not taking his medications, although I’m not sure about it but I suppose it’s that.

Ben always remembered the times he spent with Sam, the road trips, the conversations and reminiscing the past experiences and travels with him. Although everything ended about their project, for Ben still the friendship remains and still the memories can never be covered by anger and regret that he’s suppose to feel about Sam.

Sam’s mother said that she’s fear was always about losing him. She does not blame anyone else but she still can’t accept the thing happened to his son Sam.


To be a friend means to accept people’s weaknesses… always being there for them no matter how hard they are to us, no matter how hard it is to accept their personality and no matter what circumstance might cross along.

In Sam’s situation, what I’ve learned was always be honest with myself and to other people. Accept that life is not always the way we wanted it to but God is always there to direct us to the path we should take no matter how hard it is for us to go through… and in times that we seem to give up, there is always a God (Yahuwa) who will lift us up and embrace saying, “Son, do you know I still love you?”

Bipolar seems like a big lesson to me not a disease something that we should be afraid of. I’m not saying that I can have it but what I’m saying is that with this movie, it brought me a lesson that I will forever learn.


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