Learning to Swallow

About This Episode


Learning to Swallow is an intimate portrait of a resilient young woman, Patsy Desmond. A charismatic, emerging artist, the “it girl” seemingly had it all: admiring friends and lovers, a prestigious work assignment with an internationally renowned artist in New York City and the potential to successfully realize her dreams. And in spite of this, Patsy struggled with bipolar disorder too. A failed suicide attempt leaves Patsy unable to swallow and for the remainder of her life must receive sustenance through a food tube.

Over four rocky years, Patsy struggles to accept her physical condition and learns to deal with the life she now faces: recovery and healing. Her inability to eat and her emotional state transform her artistic voice in the process. Filmmaker Danielle Beverly captures Patsy’s raw honesty and wit even as she becomes increasingly frail. However, by the end of the film, hope and an undying spirit prevail. Patsy renews her pact with art and life.