Drunk on Too Much Life is an intimate documentary that follows the filmmaker, her husband and their 21-year-old daughter’s epic journey from locked-down psych wards and diagnostic labels towards expansive worlds of creativity, connection and greater meaning. On their journey, the family learns that madness has meaning that goes far beyond brain chemistry

"Drunk on Too Much Life" is a brave and powerful personal documentary that radically makes us rethink 'mental illness’. It is a must-view film for mental health practitioners and families alike as it offers a unique, holistic, and much-needed perspective on the journey towards recovery."

Professor, School of Social Work
Toronto Metropolitan University (Formerly Ryerson)

Samantha Wehbi, MSW, RSW, MFA, PhD
Synopsis: 

This intimate feature documentary, Drunk on Too Much Life follows the filmmaker, her husband, and their 21-year-old-daughter’s epic journey from locked-down psych ward and countless medications towards expansive worlds of creativity, connection and greater meaning. On her journey of self-discovery, Corrina and her family learn that madness has meaning that goes far beyond brain chemistry and recovery is not a straight path to being cured but a crooked and bumpy journey and series of small awakenings. 

A grass-roots celebration of holistic care through self-awareness, supportive communities and peer-support, Drunk on Too Much Life shows how lasting healing and transformation happens on each of these levels simultaneously: in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our society at large.

Subject Areas: Psychology, Psychiatry, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Disability Studies, Mad Studies, Education, Special Education, Narrative Medicine, Creative Arts.

Reviews

“We’ve all heard stories of mad artists or seen biopics about creative geniuses who channelled their inner demons into radical, transformative art. The doc explores these ideas with a personal approach as Corrina and other mental health advocates inspire audiences to frame the ways in which we perceive and discuss mental health.”

Patrick Mullen POV Magazine

"An important film that invites us to examine our preconceptions about mental illness and the way language and labels limit our understanding. Deeply intimate and compassionate, this film teaches us that we are all connected and that healing takes place in community."

Dagmar Schroeder, Stella's Place Young Adult Mental Health Toronto

“Melles' film, Drunk on Too Much Life is an intimate, emotional journey of recovery that’s consistently compelling and thought-provoking…. Drunk on Too Much Life offers a new perspective on how society views mental illness.”

CJRU.ca

“[Drunk on Too Much Life] strives to change how people perceive those with mental health issues framing their conditions as potentially insightful gives rather than burdensome disorders and will lead to conversations about ways the Canadian [and American] mental health programme succeeds and fails to accommodate and support young people in their healing.”

Toronto Guardian

Drunk on Too Much Life is a beautiful exploration of a family's journey to understand, survive, and celebrate their daughter's mental health challenges. Through a heartfelt examination of language, mysticism, art, and nature, this film questions so much of what we know about psychosis and alternate realities and has the power to change how we understand and approach treatment and healing.

Elisa Gorez, MSW, RSW, Stella's Place, Young Adult Mental Health Toronto
Director's Commentary: 

When our daughter Corrina was six years old, she began to worry about 'going crazy’ and described it as "being drunk on too much life" – a beautiful and poetic way to describe the intensely emotional and psychic experiences she would later experience. After her first ‘psychotic break’ when she was 21, our family knew no other way to conceptualize states of ‘madness’ except for what psychiatrists told us. This film is our search for a different story and language with which to understand hearing voices and seeing visions, stepping outside of the biomedical perspective. As Sascha DuBrul, one of the main participants in the film says: “Defining ourselves outside of convention, we see our conditions as dangerous gifts to be cultivated and taken care of rather than seen as diseases or disorders needed to be ‘cured’ or eliminated.”

In a deeply personal way, the film advocates for a new narrative of mental health that is grounded in lived experience, holistic recovery, community, creativity, and connection. The film is a love letter from me to my daughter and to community-based and peer support healing models. All the participants in the film are connected to our family, including the renowned speaker and author Dr. Gabor Maté.

Many personal documentaries that explore issues surrounding mental health focus on the parent, sibling or the filmmaker who struggles with mental illness. These films, and the media surrounding these films are often enmeshed with the biomedical model of health which is the dominant way we treat mental illness in Canada and the U.S.A. This film is unique in that it journeys outside of the asylum towards a more complex understanding of mental health. Its POV is of a family’s journey towards healing involving a holistic understanding of extreme psychic experiences such as hearing voices or seeing visions – often labelled as “psychosis.” The film is a kaleidoscopic journey towards healing and recovery, telling a different more complex story of what gets called mental illness. 

As a filmmaker and mother, I have never seen a personal documentary exploring mental health from the parents and daughter’s POV – together and intertwined on their road to healing and greater understanding. A grass-roots celebration of transformative mental health through self-awareness, supportive families, communities, and peer-support, I stayed away from talking head psychiatric expert and focused instead on ‘open dialogue’ and a poetic visual language that celebrates creativity. This film moves beyond medicalized and disease-centered thinking towards regenerative, holistic, and transformative mental health practices. DOTML rebels against the straight walls of the asylum and illuminates how the interesting journeys are never taken on concrete roads - especially journeys of the mind, creativity, and spirit.  To quote Jeanette Winterson: “Going mad is the beginning of a journey it’s not supposed to be the end result.”