Since I’ve been struggling with my mental health, about a year and a half now, I have been hyper aware of how people talk about mental illness and how it is portrayed in the media.
If you’re unaware, let’s just say that things are not great. For the most part mental illness is played off as a joke, something to laugh at or make light of. Or it’s made out to be dangerous, the cause of the worlds woes. Either way, when it is something you’re personally struggling with it doesn’t feel great to have the media reflect your issues back at you in such unkind ways.
It makes it hard to believe that you’re not broken or worthless or a burden. It’s hard to believe that there’s help out there, that you deserve help. And when you’re battling with your own mind you need more than ever to believe in yourself and an eventual end to the suffering. It’s essential to survival.
The problem is so widespread that I started making an effort to notice any media that talked openly and honestly about mental health. Hearing others speak their truth can be life changing. Knowing that others have fought, survived, and actually thrived while living with mental illnesses can make a dark day just a little bit brighter.
Right away I realized that a decent amount of the media I was already attracted to managed to shine that light. My favorite band, Motion City Soundtrack, dealt with a great deal of the band members’ struggle with things like anxiety, self medication, and depression. The Vlogbrothers, a YouTube channel I follow, have made several videos discussing their own personal journeys with mental illness. Even an old favorite, Harry Potter, manages to personify the struggle against depression in the form of dementors.
In the coming weeks I’ll be spending Mondays posting about the media I’ve found with positive representations of mental illness. I will also be on the lookout for other shows, books, podcasts, and YouTube videos that have positive representations as well. If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments!
Tomorrow I’ll start off this series of posts with one about Harry Potter, dementors representing depression, and what I think is a good representation of anxiety in the series. Grab your books because I’ll be giving book and chapter references when I can!