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Losing it
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Losing It: An outline

Tom & JudePeople of all ages can find the subject of mental health difficult, frightening and alienating. The starting point of the programme is that mental health problems of different degrees of severity can affect anyone at any time in their lives.

There was particular concern to locate the drama in the kind of everyday experiences that anyone might have. The writer Malcolm Campbell created three young characters – Jude, Tom and Muna – whose lives connect powerfully for one week. From the outset, they seem no more or less complex or troubled than many other young people their age. But behind the front that we all construct to the rest of the world, one of the three, Jude, is experiencing difficulties …

A reckless edge
Bright, good-looking, athletic and 18 years old, Jude has a reckless edge that makes him both attractive and dangerous. We quickly learn that, behind the image he presents to the world, he is experiencing difficulties with academic work. Exams, which he sees as his passport out, are imminent and he’s been struggling.

He enlists the help of Tom, a student in his psychology class, to help him study. Tom and Jude know each other but they are not really friends. It’s unlikely Tom has much social life at all because he has been caring for his mother who is recovering from depression. Academically a high achiever, independent, self-reliant but a bit of a loner, he is intrigued and slightly flattered by Jude’s request for help. Jude is also able to capitalise on Tom’s infatuation with Muna, a young woman currently working as a local radio presenter: if Tom will help him prepare for the psychology exam, Jude will help Tom win Muna.

Trying to escape
MunaMuna is sharp, quick-witted, outspoken – in Jude’s words, a 'motormouth'. She seems an unlikely partner for Tom, but in the end, he gets to her without Jude’s help. Tom lacks the confidence to ask Muna out in person, but he is more than capable of finding the right words to interest her via an internet chatroom. They fix a date.

The night of Tom’s date with Muna is the night before the psychology exam. Tom is too nervous and excited about the evening ahead to pick up on Jude’s distracted state of mind. When Jude is left alone to revise, we start to see that he is lost, troubled, even in pain. He can’t concentrate, can’t focus. He has to escape the room. While Tom waits for Muna, Jude goes running – trying to escape from the problems and pressures building up inside. When he returns, he seems to be on the point of turning to his parents, but at the last moment, he can’t find the words.

Still waiting, Tom calls Muna’s show and manages to break through her tough-talking on-air persona. His question, 'Are you really so cold or is it just a front?' is disconcerting, and the call shakes Muna’s confidence.

No comfort
Jude, meanwhile, has escaped the house a second time and is drinking with his mates. But it is clear he is unhappy, alienated, out of it. There’s no comfort here, no conversation … Jude is very much alone.

Muna goes looking for her 'secret' date at the agreed meeting-place and finds Tom. Intrigued by both his phone call and his persistence, she agrees to have a drink with him.

Hiding in the toilets at the pub, Jude hears his mates talking about him.

Muna tries to explain why she stood Tom up and is clearly surprised by his responses. He refuses to fit the stereotype she has constructed for him, and she finds herself able to drop her guard and let a little vulnerability show through.

Walking the streets and chatting, they come across Jude, who has taken a beating from some unknown lads. There is a moment, when Muna touches his face, when Jude could possibly open up to them both, but it passes and he refuses any help, reassures them that he’s fine, and disappears before they can stop him. But the story he has told them is at odds with what really happened. Jude was no innocent victim of a street fight - he had actively provoked the beating.

JudeThe hardest bit
Jude and Tom sit their exam the next morning. Afterwards, at home, Jude hears Tom calling for him, asking Jude if he wants to talk, saying the teacher has been looking for him. His mother’s anxious voice can be heard on the answerphone. He goes looking for Muna, who is having the worst possible day at the office. Jude is there waiting for her when she leaves.

Tom, too, tries to find Muna with a Woody Allen video to share, but when he discovers her at her flat with Jude, he walks out. Muna goes after him to try and explain. She had been sacked from her job and run into Jude, and they had tried to take comfort in each other. Reaching a kind of understanding, Tom and Muna return to the flat to find that Jude has taken an overdose.

In hospital, Jude talks for the first time about how he’s been feeling – hurting, desperate, alone, frightened he is going mad.

Some time later, we see Jude once more. He’s different. Although he’s sure it’s not all over, he’s done the hardest bit – asked for help. And these days he can’t stop talking as he tries to make sense of the past and looks forward to some kind of future.

Some key issues in Losing It