Ten years ago, after it had already stopped airing, I jam-packed the entire series of Sex and the City into one week, and now, a decade later, I am revisiting the show. It’s a classic, but in reviews of today people are quick to point out the things that have gone out-dated.
I have a number of qualms with the show’s stereotypes and gender roles that today are not considered acceptable by a large number of progressive people but one episode which I have surprisingly not seen any content or criticism about is ‘Boy, Interrupted’ — especially considering the rising awareness and conversation around mental health.
The protagonist, Carrie, meets up with her high school sweetheart who reveals he is voluntarily in a mental health institution. With words like ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, and ‘looney bin’ thrown in throughout the episode we would be quick to judge this character if it weren’t for his charming, mild, and well-rounded, awaken persona. He brands his particular ‘breakdown’ as ‘soul searching’.
Do we really have to re-brand ourselves and turn to a sort of marketing to convince others of our sanity and good character?
Carrie is quick to point out the ‘red flag’ of dating someone dealing with a mental health condition. Are we really doomed with a blemish (or a big f*cking flaw) on our reputations forever if we have struggled with mental health? Will my condition always precede my otherwise articulate, self-aware and lucid self?
I’d like to point out, that those of us who are a little (or a lot) ‘looney’ are just struggling to make sense of a world that largely doesn’t add up; the environment is deteriorating before our eyes and natural disasters are commonplace due to this very fact, we throw out a third of the global supply of food while millions starve, and those in control have little to no political background and the ‘industry’ has become a form of entertainment. Those who are supposed to love us most sometimes fail and betray us, take advantage of us, or in the worst cases, abuse us — at least this has been what I observe of it.
Don’t judge and don’t label. We are all much more than our afflictions and even our accomplishments. These shows are demonstrations and landmarks in a timeline that show exactly how far we have come in the conversation of acceptance and compassion. 1 in 4 North Americans struggle with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Medications and modern treatments make it so that these can be managed effectively and many, many people recover and live fulfilling lives and are not plagued by suffering.
You are not doomed if you have struggled through a mental health condition. If anything, IMHO, it means you may even have a grasp on how insane this modern life is, and despite how modern it is, how far we still have to go. These conditions make us human and there is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s those who silence, judge, and condemn that make this world intolerable.
You are capable of great things, no matter your background and if you are doing the “soul searching,” all the better! At least you are probably self-aware and genuine. I believe this to my core.