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I’ve watched a thousand shows that display mental illness inaccurately. Mental illness isn’t always obvious to the naked eye. It isn’t always someone screaming out for help or someone speaking words that you don’t always understand. People suffer from undiagnosed, untreated mental illness on a regular basis without anyone knowing. It’s important that people understand it so they can support their loves ones. It’s show like these that display mental illness in a perfect light. Not only do they show what those with the illnesses deal with, but they show how it affect the ones around them. We shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are. We should embrace it, learn how to cope with it, and find our light. Being someone that battles with depression and anxiety on a regular basis, I need shows like these to remind me that I am not the only one.
Orange is the New Black
I just finished the new season of Orange is the New Black and I am blown away. This show touched on so many important and controversial topics like racism, mental illness, and police brutality. Yes, it’s a wild, crazy, vulgar show, but it’s also deep, meaningful, and emotional. As you may know Crazy Eyes has a mental illness. It was hinted in her flashback this season, that Crazy Eyes did hold a job and she had a support system to keep her days organized. It wasn’t until that support system (adopted sister I think) went on vacation that Suzanne’s mental illness took a turn of the worst. It all seemed innocent. She didn’t understand that what she was doing, while harmless in her mind, was scary to others. Throughout the entire Orange is the New Black series, especially in the newest season, we watch how Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) is influenced, how much her illness hurts her. We see how mental illness cannot be controlled. Do you understand how it feels to not control your own mind? It’s devastating! If you want humor, good stories, and mental illness at it’s worst, then Orange is the New Black is for you.
You’re the Worst
I didn’t watch Season 1 of You’re The Worst. In fact, I was told that all I needed to see was Season 2. This is one of the most honest and most accurate displays of depression that I’ve ever seen. You’re the Worst is a show about a regular couple just trying to live life – scratch that – it’s a show about a couple trying to find happiness in everything they can: drugs, alcohol, sex, love. They are searching everywhere but within. Spoiler alert: The girlfriend, Gretchen, is depressed. It’s something that tries to hide and tries to deal with herself, but as I mentioned before, she can’t control depression. It’s not something that you can just get over. You can change a million things in your life and find temporary happiness, but that doesn’t mean that you depression will disappear. In You’re the Worst Gretchen basically sabotages herself. She pushes everyone away because she feels… well, sometimes, she feels nothing. Sometimes depression isn’t sadness, sometimes it’s a feeling of nothingness. This show gives us a glimpse into how depression affects a healthy young woman’s life and how it puts a damper on her relationships and friendships. It’s actually a really funny show, with a very serious and meaningful undertone.
This is my newest obsession. You can binge-watch Shameless on Netflix. You could watch Shameless and only the surface: a scandalous comedy with “adult situations” or you can see deeper, darker side. One of the key elements to Shameless is that the older sister is caring for all of her younger siblings. Where are the actual parents? Well, they are both alcoholics and drug addicts. Addiction is a huge part of Shameless. We actually see, as the children get older, how the absence of their parents and the drug/alcohol abuse have deeply affected their lives. Drug addiction is defined as mental disorders because you body and brain become dependent on the substances. Therefore, you can’t control what you do or think. Shameless is full of every emotion that you could ever think of. It’s raw, it’s scandalous, it’s sad, it’s hilarious. If you want a show that displays mental illness, but isn’t too heavy. Then this is for you. Just keep in mind that there’s a lot of adult scenes, so if you aren’t comfortable with sexual situations, nudity, or harsh scenes, then this isn’t for you. Just remember though, mental illness isn’t clean, proper, and easy to look at.
Shameless also touches a lot on Bipolar disorder. The mother in the show is bipolar and it’s hinted that the one of her children might also be bipolar. There are really depressing moments in the show when the mother is so depressed that she wants to hide away in a small space and not speak to anyone and not eat anything. She doesn’t event want to get up to use the restroom. This is all too familiar and very sad to watch. However, that’s really how depression makes you feel. I highly recommend this show.
Mental illness is real. Some illnesses are talked about and recognized more than others, like bipolar disorder. Then there are ones that people think are made up like body dysmorphia, self mutilation, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. We need to talk about mental illness because ignoring it or hiding it will only push others away. We need a good support system and people around us who understand when it’s time to give us our space, comfort us, or just to remind us that it’s okay. It’s shows like these that take us from pretending mental illness doesn’t exist, to talking about it without shame or embarrassment.