Me Before You

Me_Before_You_(film)

Okay, so the movie, Me Before You(based on Jojo Moyes’ novel of the same title) has been hitting the big screens and is getting a lot of hype at the moment.

Click here to watch the trailer.

This is my two cents worth.

**SPOILER ALERT**

I read the book after many of my (able-bodied) friends convinced me that it’s a “must read”. Some even commented on how well the author gets inside the guy in the wheelchair’s head. But the book is not written from the quadriplegic’s perspective. It’s written from his companion/carer’s point of view.

To be honest, I hated the book.

Despite it being a love story, it has a really crappy ending and it left me feeling incredibly sad. I’m a romantic at heart and a real sucker for happily ever after. We have enough sadness to deal with in everyday life, so I prefer to find refuge in feel good stories.

I also found the book to be unrealistic in places and it’s clear that the author has never been personally affected by disability. From what I’ve seen and heard about the movie so far, the producers and actors also have no real clue of what it’s like to be quadriplegic. How could they? They’re all able-bodied. So should they really be the ones to be telling our stories? I’m not so sure.

The movie has caused outrage among many in the disability sector.  Most of the quads I know are tired of the media portraying our disability in a negative light and really wish that the storytellers in our world would do more research before creating unrealistic characters that pander to their own ignorance and insecurities. We don’t all want to die. Many of us are living full, meaningful lives and contributing positively to society and some are doing more than a lot of able-bodied folk. Most of us are too busy living to get busy dying.

The movie’s determination to romanticise assisted suicide leaves me wondering if I’ll ever be accepted. Do people think that I should also just kill myself because I am paralysed from the neck down?

I keep reminding myself that this is only a story with one fictional character’s negative outlook on life. It certainly doesn’t represent who I am as a proud quadriplegic woman.

There is always a silver lining and, as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. The controversy over this movie has highlighted the plight of quadriplegics the world over and ignited discussions around disability in general. That in itself is a good thing. We can all learn something from healthy debate.

At the end of the day, this is a story about one character’s freedom of choice. Isn’t that what many of us fight for? Our freedom to choose. Who are we to judge? It does worry me, however, that his choice is presented not as selfish and cowardly, but as sacrificial, brave and even noble. Should I also be sparing my family the burden of caring for me? Am I the one being selfish by choosing to live?

None of the other characters supported Will Traynor’s decision to end his life, which sends out a good message that not all quadriplegics are simply abandoned. It also tells the world that irrespective of physical ability, we can love and be loved.

The good thing is that movies like this create awareness and opens doors for people like me to share our stories, which in contrast could have a powerful, positive impact and make a real difference to people’s mindsets. The mere fact that many of us haven’t given up and don’t intend to any time soon  can give society a new appreciation for our daily struggles and in turn become stories of hope and promise rather than abandonment and despair. As, after all, disability can reach out and pull anyone of you into its nasty club at any time.

I think that the film producers missed a perfect opportunity here to make a real difference to our world. Think about how powerful and transforming this movie could have been if it had had a different outcome? And, I’ve no doubt that the story would still have been a massive hit.

For me, I want people out there to know that there is life (and love) after a devastating spinal-cord injury and it can be a good quality life, depending on one’s attitude. I certainly don’t want to kill myself or be pitied in anyway.

What happened to fairytales with happy endings?

They do exist in real life.

I know because I’m lucky enough to be living one at present.

 

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

 

About Tracy Todd

Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly NOT what defines my essence as a woman. I am also a mother, teacher, wannabe writer and an inspirational speaker with a positive outlook on life.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Me Before You

  1. jacki says:

    love your outlook on it Trace and it all makes sense! I never read the book and “enjoyed” the movie coz the actors were so good but it was also way to sad and left me feeling very YUCK afterwards. Although I’d read reviews and realised he did end his life I still believed at one point right near the end that he didn’t actually go through with it. I do understand how he initially felt BUT then finding love and somebody so special who truly truly did love him just as he was and who he did teach so much to about life too — there were so many reasons for him to LIVE! Trace you’re so remarkable and so many forget or don’t realise how many obstacles you face daily and your pain and suffering coz you’re always so positive and look so good etc! THANK YOU for never giving up and for the difference you make in so many of our lives!! Love you my precious friend!!

  2. I did read the book after I read the blog post. I think I then knew what to expect and read the book that way. All that I saw is that when she chatted on the chat room, a lot of people said there that they live happily as quadriplegics (Which is evident from your posts🙂.I don’t agree or like the end but there was some good points too. . I think what is nice about the book is that it showed that disability doesn’t change or lessen the influence you have on other people-he changed her life. But I agree a happy ending would have maybe driven the point better home. I also thought about the part depression played and if he changed his mind and they maybe then split up, what would he do then?

  3. Hello,

    I did read the book, after I read your blog. I

  4. James says:

    It’s always nice to read your posts and get your perspective on things; something I’ve relied upon for a while now.

    You’re right in that this was an opportunity missed and you rightly pointed out that the writer/cast etc. have never had such a profound disability if any at all. Until my accident, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it must be like although my grandmother was wheelchair-bound. When you are able bodied you cannot imagine being anything other than what you are. It has taken me a long time to come to an understanding with my disability and I am still in denial!

    That said, dear Tracy, some of us aren’t as strong/brave/optimistic as you are. Don’t get me wrong, you’re inspirational but I know many (including myself) who have tried to end their lives. With me it was not just because of the disability but the constant, delibitating pain and drugs. What I am trying to say is that I can empathise with those wanting to end their lives but I don’t think of it as heroic but as an escape. As a previous post mentioned, depression does play a large part and, unfortunately, sometimes the mental health authorities cannot help.

    And I am not a quadriplegic! How you remain so strong in light of what you have endured makes me marvel at your resilience and feel shame for my weakness but that’s what makes us all individuals even when we have something so fundamental in common.

    I have said before that I am really happy that you have found happiness and I sincerely hope that you do enjoy the “happy ever after” as you deserve; as a lot of good, caring people deserve. Life can be cruel and indiscriminate, we just do the best we can.

    Take care and stay happy xx

  5. Samantha says:

    As usual Tracy you hit the nail on the head. The author, the movie makers probably thought nice “love story” but failed to really know the mind of a disabled person. You probably right in saying they do not know the live or have first-hand knowledge of what it really is like as a disabled person, for I think if they did, the movie/book would be different. There are some pretty amazing people out there living a fuller and more active life than most able-bodied people. Just look at the Invictus Games and even your own life. I am in awe of what the human spirit is capable of if you only put your mind and attitude to it! I salute all of you for showing us able-bodied people that there is life after tragedy, and people to help you through the tough times. It could be that they wanted to highlight depression but then I am wondering why there was no real help offered him, it almost gives me the impression they want to say “it’s ok, not happy with your life, circumstances, status, disability etc, just end it then. It’s not selfish.” I disagree, you have a whole lot to offer the world, you are the change the world needs to be better and without you here there is a small piece that does not get changed for the better.
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.
    William Ernest Henley

    Thank you for continually being a beacon of hope and light to us all that are privileged enough to know you and those who are yet to know you Tracy.

    Enjoy every moment of your true fairy-tale!

  6. Hi Tracy. I watched the movie (haven’t read the book) and l resonated very much with Clarke’s character. She is perhaps the reason why l enjoyed the movie so much. I was planning to review the movie for my own blog and l realize that l would have based my praise solely on my fondness for Lou.

    Thank you for sharing your view. I can honestly say that l never looked at the movie from your point of view. I was a bit taken aback by his firmness to end his life but that was probably as far as my objections went. My fiance and l both thought he might change his mind and when it turned out that he didn’t – all we saw was a plot twist and an unpredictable ending where boy does not get girl etc.

    As somewhat of an activist for my own causes, l am profusely sorry for neglecting how this storyline can impact stereotypes and awareness amongst our community.

    xxx

  7. dliuzzo@rogers.com says:

    Hi my name is Diane Liuzzo and I knew Tracy. This article is very precious to me. If it is possible could I or you send it to Life News and the Euthanasice Prevention Coalition. Please let me know I can give you their e-mails.

    Blessings Diane

  8. Rhoda says:

    Tracy, you are one of the bravest women I have ever had the pleasure of “meeting”. I think that I would also agree with your point of view after reading your book and really getting an insight into what you went through and the thoughts that tore around your head. I haven’t yet read the book or watched the movie, but I will try and let you know my thoughts.

  9. I did read the book and I did “enjoy” it (if you can call sobbing your eyes out enjoyment). I found it pretty clear that he was a unique case concerning ending his life and that his main reason was not only quadriplegia but also the pain associated with it. For me the debate should be whether depression played a big part in it, and should someone that is depressed be able to have a choice to end their life.

    And I do think his choice was potrayed as selfish (Me before you), but if she convinced him to not do it would that have been selfish from her side? And that was the reason I liked the book, because it made me question my thoughts on assisted suicide.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I have to agree with you that if depression played a role in his decision (and I’m sure it did), then he should have been offered more mental health support. Remember, not only was he mourning the loss of the use of his body, but also the loss of his girlfriend, his job and life as he knew it. It’s a lot for anybody to deal with. Trust me. But there is help out there for depression and the fact that he wasn’t offered any, really got to me.

  10. supermac149 says:

    BRAVO Tracy.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s