I’m very pleased to announce I just got an article about Spider-Man, Harry Osborn and mental illness published at The Mary Sue! It’s, uh, not positive about Nick Spencer’s writing.
I hope you enjoy it. There are some nice comments on there, including one that actually vocalised something I’ve been thinking for a while – for all the terribleness of this storyline, the backlash to it did highlight how unexpectedly beloved Harry is among Spider-Man fans. (Maybe the real Harry was the friends we made along the way.)
I used to really worry that medications would harm my creativity and it’s part of why I resisted taking them. It hasn’t. If anything it’s allowed me to be more focused and able to complete things. My imagination hasn’t changed just because I’m on anti-depressants.
a lot of my family didnt want me to start medications because they thought it would impact my ability to create, and I believed them.
Now im getting better and better with my art because i dont have to fight through the brainfog or the constant panic attacks and can dedicate my energy to my work.
Antidepressents didnt take my emotions away, they made them easier to handle.
also Van Gogh was literally in an asylum receiving mental health treatment when he painted ‘Starry Night’. It was one of the most stable & productive periods of his life, despite the fact that wasn’t hugely effective treatment, because they didn’t really have modern understandings of what things work on mental illness. Like, you know. Medication.
This is why we don’t romanticize mental illness or chronic disease.
ALSO because I am reading a book of his letters right now, Van Gogh himself addressed the idea that the best art came from pain and said that his art tended to suffer when his depression was hitting pretty hard. So don’t even pull that shit where you give his untreated depression credit for his art. Van Gogh would have hated that, and if antidepressants/better treatment of mental illness HAD existed then we might have even more of his work now.
Carrie Fisher explains to a little boy what ‘bipolar’ means, at Indiana Comic Con 2015.
I love her so much.
I will always reblog this because it’s the best description of bi-polar I have EVER seen.
(Especially to people who don’t understand what mania means. You aren’t HAPPY, you’re very fast.)
It was SO important to 15-year-old me to learn that PRINCESS LEIA (whose hair I have envied since age 7, btw) was bi-polar.
she is so good and i love her so much, and so so much for TALKING about everything so frankly. (without losing an ounce of her humor).
I never gave Carrie Fisher much thought until she was the guest on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me – If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s a news-related comedy podcast recorded weekly in Chicago.
She was hilarious and everything I have read/seen since has made me like and respect her more.
Reblogging because it is so important not to hide things from kids. This is an awesome example of explaining something to a kid by relating it to things they already understand. Then they can accept it, process it, and move on. Otherwise, the hidden thing can become a source of fear or shame.
Thank you for waiting anon you’re a gem and so is this question. Please drop me a line and let you know if you saw this because I know it’s been a few days.
To begin I’d like to point you towards sarah531‘s amazing gifset regarding Amy Pond and symptoms of PTSD, not only because it’s flawless but because it’s very relevant to what you’re talking about here. You guys know that I’ll scream until tumblr deactivates me (and probably after to anyone who’ll listen) that Amy Pond is mentally ill in some respect, whether you subscribe to the abandonment issues theory, depression theory, PTSD theory, or other theories.
Sarah did an awesome job of citing evidence for each of these characteristics, so I’m definitely going to build on that (hope you don’t mind) to answer this question. If you’ll notice, many of the characteristics pertain to what you’re talking about: suicidal impulses, inappropriate sexual conduct, reckless behavior, difficulty working through conflict, difficulty expressing emotions, aggressive behavior, and thoughts of revenge on perpetrator. I’m going to go through each of these and hopefully by the end we’ll have an answer to your question.
Suicidal Impulses/Reckless Behavior
I felt like these two went hand in hand as they tend to have the same source in my opinion. I’ve spoken at length on this here, here, here, and here, also tillthenexttimedoctor talked about this recently here and with me on my blog here, so basically there’s a ton of reading you can do about Amy and this specific kind of mental illness in case this was something you’re interested in. Some of these metas overlap into “difficulty expressing emotions” as well.
As Julia pointed out in one or more of the links above, Amy’s suicidal impulses often make her more likely to put herself in life-threatening situations, which often result in violence. Her pushing and shoving the Doctor at the end of Cold Blood, her crashing the car in Amy’s Choice, on the surface these look violent but if you delve more into it you see the underlying pain that Amy’s going through that drives these impulses. Since I and others have already written so much on this I’m going to let those metas speak for themselves and move on.
Difficulty Working Through Conflict/Expressing Emotions
Some of the metas linked above overlap in this, but I’d like to point out that this is one of Amy’s most consistent and interesting flaws, in my opinion. While people often write off Amy’s inability to express herself and solve conflict as a sign of her being uncaring or rude, I’d argue quite the opposite: she cares too much. Amy puts on a hard, uncaring exterior because she’s afraid people are going to abandon her. She pushes Rory away because she thinks he’ll leave her, she’s afraid to let the Doctor in because he’s left her in the past. Everyone she’s ever cared for: the Doctor when she was little, her parents, even her aunt later, all leave her. Of course she’s not going to be emotionally vulnerable when people are constantly hurting her, and this results in her lashing out. I don’t think that’s violence, I think that’s a natural response to past trauma.
Amy’s frequently seen slapping, hitting, or lashing out in some way (mostly against Rory, which isn’t a coincidence). Some of them are playful punches on the arm, but sometimes they’re not. I feel like this goes hand-in-hand with Amy’s inability to work through conflict. She doesn’t know how to express her emotions or talk about how she’s feeling, so she reacts physically. This isn’t good, it’s definitely a character flaw, but it’s part of who she is. She’s not violent for the sake of being violent. I think that’s where the fundamental misunderstanding comes in. What Amy’s doing shouldn’t be condoned, but people often call her violent as if it’s just there, instead of thinking about why she’s acting and reacting this way. She’s doing it for control, to try to feel like she’s not drowning, and she’s doing it in an attempt to express how she’s feeling. That doesn’t mean it’s okay, but that also doesn’t mean her violence is baseless and should be treated as such.
Inappropriate Sexual Conduct
This is, as you aptly pointed out, the one that Amy gets so much criticism for. I think the fact that it’s on the list of symptoms for PTSD speaks volumes already, but let’s dive deeper into this. Firstly, from a feminist standpoint, there’s literally nothing wrong with being open and confident in your sexuality as long as everything’s consensual. Usually this isn’t a problem for Amy as most of her sexual interactions are with Rory, who accepts and even encourages them. Amy’s flirtatious nature on the surface isn’t really an issue either, because as far as we see she doesn’t actually cause discomfort to anyone besides the Doctor. This is what I want to talk about. The scene at the end of Flesh and Stone draws both shippers and criticism alike.
I have to agree with Sarah who said “this is wrong, icky behavior” on Amy’s part. There’s no way to spin this to say that this is okay: Amy forced herself on the Doctor. She’s flawed, and she made a bad choice and now she needs to own it, period. I wish we’d seen a bit more of her owning that, but we do see her work out her issues with Rory and grow as a person. I’d like to point out that not only did this occur at the beginning of Amy’s run, but also occurred at a time of anxiety for her. This explains, but doesn’t excuse, her behavior. Just like above, Amy’s not sexually aggressive for the sake of fan service or just because, she’s sexually aggressive due to some underlying issues related to her character. That doesn’t make it okay, but it’s part of the picture that needs to be addressed.
I point all of this out because as Amy evolves through three seasons of the show, by series 7 you’d never see her do anything like this. She’s much more grown up, much more in control of her emotions, and much better at dealing with her anxiety surrounding stressful or uncomfortable situations. She doesn’t feel the need to be so sexually aggressive because it’s not a coping tactic or a way for her to feel in control. Amy made a mistake and learned from it, and I think the show did at least an okay job of pointing out that this wasn’t okay.
Thoughts of Revenge on the Perpetrator
This is the one that I honestly don’t understand why people get so angry. I’ve talked before about how Amy’s actions towards Madame Kovarian could be considered an act of love, but even if you don’t subscribe to that concept, I want you to honestly tell me that, if you were a parent, you wouldn’t try to take revenge on the person who not only kidnapped your child, but preformed mental and medical abuse on her. People have justified parents left and right for killing or being otherwise violent towards the people who want to or do cause harm towards their children. Why is Amy any different?
People tend to either forget that Amy’s a mother or get angry at Moffat for bringing it up too much or “not developing it well enough” or something in that vein. Regardless of your feelings on who River Song turned out to be, a mother’s love is a concept we as a society push and push, and now people turn around and use it against Amy? Shows a lot of unfair bias to me.
To conclude, I think that labeling Amy as violent and sexually aggressive is only partially true. I think to blanketly label her those things ignores a lot of depth of character. Yes, Amy lashes out, and yes, she owns her sexuality. Yes, sometimes she takes it too far in both respects, but those are character flaws. You’re right in your assessment that Doctor Who often showcases a lot of violence and some sexual aggression in other characters. I think it’s more pronounced in Amy because it’s part of her character, but we’re not supposed to condemn her for it, we’re supposed to look at it in conjunction with who she really is.
People love to ignore the good parts of Amy to slap labels on her. I’ve talked about this more in depth over here (which I also linked above for another reason), as well. It’s the classic strawman tactic to try and take down Moffat, or something of that nature. But we, dear anon, know better, and I hope in some way that’s a comfort.
, Mara Wilson wishes someone had told her that being depressed and having anxiety was OK. Since no one did that for her growing up, she’s taking the opportunity to tell young people now. The former child actress and current writer teamed up with
Hey, person who wrote this. I’ll trade you my mental illness for all the Tumblr cred you feel like I have. No, seriously! Give me a yell and we’ll have a chat about how you’re gonna manage the anxiety and sickness and doubting your mind and jazz. You’ll be fine! Come and give it a try!
I've never been officially diagnosed with trichotillomania, unless it happened when I was little. (I'd have to ask my parents really.) But ever since I was a child, I've had a…weird relationship with my hair. I have vague memories of when I was younger, (seven? eight?) of my mum and one of her friends examining the bald patch I'd made in my hair. Ever since I can remember, I've picked up my hair, wound it round my finger (when I was really little, I used to wind it round my tongue…this was not something my parents or teachers appreciated. And yes, I used to eat it) and pulled it out. It used to be pulling it out at the roots, but now I just make a knot and pull out the knot. It just…feels good I guess? I don't know why.
And when I was a teenager, I loved pulling my eyebrows out at the roots with my fingers. I remember staying up one night hearing my parents argue, and in the morning a whole chunk of eyebrow was gone. I don't do that anymore, but…I liked it, and I probably still would. It was almost like a stress reliver.
I think it was something my parents worried about when I was growing up, because I have (again, pretty vague) memories of my parents making me get my hair cut short when I was about ten or so. Nothing really worked, though, I still pulled it out. And of course, it lasted well into adult life…remember this? (Remember keeping pulled-out hair in my pencilcase, not wanting to part from it? Remember when people found it? God, they must have thought I was such a disturbing twat.) Sigh.
I used to do it without even realising…I'd be watching a movie or something and afterwards, when I turned the lights back on, there'd just be hair everywhere. My laptop table at my parent's house used to have knots of hair scattered all over the carpet below it, which made me feel disgusting, even though I realise now I had no need to feel that way, it was just a…thing. My dad once commented loudly about the hair-mess at a school parents evening…I was mortified, but this other girl I barely knew (and still can't remember the name of) looked over and gave me a sympathetic sort of half-smile. I still remember that…
Anyway, a couple of years ago my boyfriend came up with the idea of getting a scarf with tassles, that I could pull out, that would feel like hair…and it actually worked pretty well. I still pull my hair out more than I'd like, but I've destroyed two scarves and kept my hair pretty much as good as I'll ever get it. (Anyone else tried this? Did it work?) It's awkward having to take a scarf around to friend's houses and on holidays and stuff, but…eh.
So, that's my Hair Story. Fun, eh?
(Don't judge my parents too harshly- there's a lot they didn't get, but they had to deal with so much awful stuff I'm constantly amazed they managed to do the good job they did.)
You know…I think it’s finally time to put this on the Internet. I want to talk about it, just to a) get it off my chest and b) hopefully help others….I don’t go into too much detail, but there might be some triggers…
Okay, so: I’d always had slight mental health problems, as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is hearing about ‘devil worshippers’ on the radio news, and then later on it popping into my head that I was one, and that God would punish me. I was only nine or ten, and my family was quite religious then, and I was really scared. And I’ve always had trichotillomania, although it was never diagnosed (as far as I know). When I was little I had a bald patch from where I pulled out my hair, and even to this day I have this thing where I wind it around my finger and then pull it out. (I have sort-of conquered this now, by using a scarf and pulling out the tassles on the scarf instead.)
Anyway, I have a fear of a Thing (I won’t go into it, everyone has a different Thing anyway) and I do weird stuff to prevent this Thing happening. When I was in high school, the cafeteria sold these awesome hot cookies, but one day I was queuing up and a voice in my head said “If you buy and eat those delicious cookies, the Thing will happen.” So that was the end of the cookie-eating. I still can’t eat certain foods at certain times, although I am getting slightly better in that regard. Slightly.
Things really went downhill in the closing months of 2007, though. I think it was partly triggered by the suicide of one of my schoolfriends. My parents and her parents were friends too and it shook my dad up pretty bad. From about October 2007 to December 2007, I was a wreck, and I am amazed I didn’t get sectioned. I used to do things like go an entire uni day without water, because if I drank any the Thing would happen. I have vague memories of some guy trying to chat me up, offering to buy me a drink, and I thought he was the devil or something trying to tempt me. When I did eat or drink, it had to be in a specific order. The rest of the time I honestly just…sat there. I was too afraid to do anything in case it caused the Thing. When I say nothing, I mean…nothing. I didn’t watch TV or listen to music or anything. I just sat there.
And then there was the hoarding- I hoarded my hair. (I kept it on top of a chest of drawers) I didn’t clean up because I was afraid of throwing anything away. I didn’t clean the bathroom, even. You guys heard of Howard Hughes, and what happened when he had his breakdown? I went…kinda like that. I hoarded everything. And no, I didn’t cut my nails, either, or shave, even though I wanted to. I couldn’t.
This whole thing made university very difficult indeed. One of my worst memories ever is of some guys in my class stealing my pencilcase and finding hair inside it. (Any hair that fell out while I was out, I put in my pencilcase until I could take it back and put it with the rest). I’d give my right arm to go back in time and change that. I also remember scrambling about in a toilet looking for a hair that fell on the floor- on the toilet floor, I mean, come on. I remember thinking at that point, “What’s going on? What am I doing? This isn’t how anyone should live,” but by then I was too far gone to care.
There were so many uni problems. I’d be interested to go back and look at the creative writing work I handed in then. Because I did hand in all my work on time, but…oh god, uni for those few months was a nightmare. I actually met Louis de Bernières when he came to give a lecture and to this day I have no idea what I said to him.
I survived that time mostly because of the kindness of my boyfriend, who took me to a therapist and also to the cinema several times (the cinema memories are my only good memories of those few months). I did eventually start to come out of it. I met several very good therapists, and I started to get better. Obviously there was a lot to overcome. The hoarding started to go, but scrupulosity was another big one. For ages I was afraid of reading or even touching books that criticised religion, like The God Delusion and so on. And things like tarot cards and books about ghosts. Even Supernatural, I couldn’t touch! (I’m over that now, as fans of that show will probably be pleased to know). Maybe that’s related to my family’s earlier attitude to religion (when I was really little, I wasn’t allowed to say ‘oh my god’ because it was blasphemy), I dunno. That is mostly gone now, though.
So…yes. Other interesting stuff:
-I once spent an entire Wednesday morning thinking my cat was a demon. (This is the anecdote I usually use to break the ice whenever the topic of mental health comes up). It winked at me, and I didn’t like that, so I spent several hours avoiding it.
-I sometimes call myself ‘a mental’, but I’d never call it anyone else.
-I still have panic attacks over really stupid things, but that’s almost a good thing, because it means I can sort of analyse my emotions without there being any actual danger present
-I still do things to stop The Thing happening, but it’s (usually) much less painful and noticeable now
-I sometimes worry, when walking down the street or on the bus, that I’ve just shouted out something incredibly offensive out loud at someone. This used to be much worse (I used to worry about doing it during school assembly) but now I just make myself think ‘Well, no-one is yelling at me or punching me, so I must not have done it.’
-A lot of my OCD is focused around numbers, assigning different things to different numbers and so on. That’s why I have numbers in my screenname, they’re all numbers that mean something to me.
-I get nervous on Friday the 13th (like yesterday…which is why I wasn’t on Tumblr much yesterday) and I get really nervous typing the three-sixes number, you know the one. Fun fact: when that number cropped up in the Doctor Who episode ‘Midnight’ I thought I’d imagined it and got all nervous until watching Confidential proved it was actually said in the episode.
-I still get the voice that says ‘if you do this the Thing will happen’. It does stop me from doing things something. I don’t know if it will ever completely go away.
…Okay, that’s kind of it. My mental health history, or the important bits anyway. (Or all the important bits I can remember and am comfortable talking about). I hope it helps people in some way. If you have any questions, just ask. :)