JE BANACH in Vogue.
Most of us only watch Netflix in bed. Jennifer Brea self-directed a documentary, now streaming on the service, from hers, offering up a stunning glimpse of life with myalgic encephalomyelitis, the mysterious illness better known as ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Brea was a Ph.D. student at Harvard University and a soon-to-be bride when an unexplainable disease left her bedridden and struggling even to make use of a wheelchair. Called Unrest, her film captures that difficulty of diagnosis and care for both patient and caregiver while exposing prevalent stigmas around what is often “invisible,” misunderstood, and largely incurable.
Told what so many people with chronic illness initially hear—that it is “all in her head”—Brea finds strength in self-advocacy and community; video-chatting with others with ME/CFS from her home, she tries to come to terms with a life she had never anticipated. Prepared to meet any skepticism head-on, she explains as the camera captures her ordeal: “I know you might be saying to yourself, if I really couldn’t stand up, why would I be filming it? Well, I kind of think that someone should see this.”
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