Navigating the World of Media with Anxiety/Depression

One of the challenges I’ve had on a near daily basis is juggling my general desire to still enjoy TV shows, movies and books without it adversely triggering a depressive episode or ramping my anxiety.

It’s a very fine line I have to juggle yet some times, some themes and depictions pique my interest. Released in Japan in 2016, the anime feature film Koe No Katachi deals with some very mature subject matter. The themes include deafness/disability, bullying, anxiety, depression even suicide is discussed. Unfortunately while the film had a limited theater release overseas, it has yet to have a US release date. I’m contemplating reading the manga but run the risk at utterly spoiling the movie. The few clips that I have seen and the trailer and reviews from other fans point to a very powerful story and an interesting depiction of some of the lows that are experienced by people who have suffered bullying or a sense of being ostracized.

Other recent shows have also touched upon similar themes. Manchester by the Sea, Thirteen Reasons Why come to mind. Knowing a bit of my sensitivity to these types of shows makes navigating popular and award winning shows a delicate balance. While I was able to finish Manchester by the Sea, it was a difficult viewing. Thirteen Reasons I had to stop by the second episode as the focus on suicide was becoming too much for me to comfortably sit through. While some folks are intrigued at the exploration of the types of sadness and depression shown in such works, I understand that for folks like myself who are living with it day by day it’s a very fine line between respectful artistic discussion and glamorizing it.

As you pick and choose the shows you view always try to keep a sense of perspective and know when to step away. There are still a number of shows from my past that I can’t watch due to various memories and triggers and shows that I actively avoid going forward due to how they impact me. It’s an extra layer of thinking that goes into things but with practice navigating them becomes easier.

Guilty Pleasures — Sherlock (BBC) and Relatable Themes

I’ll be honest from as far back as my early high school days I was a fan of two authors. Sir Author Conan Doyle and Isaac Asimov. From one I learned cold logic and astute observation, from the other I learned to think about the future and technology and its role with society. Though Asimov’s themes are rarely duplicated verbatim, I am happy to say that Sherlock has seen so many iterations that the mind boggles. The BBC’s latest staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman has been a bit of a guilty pleasure. Particularly season (sorry I’m an American, calling it series doesn’t work) 4.

The thing is there’s layers to both Doyle’s original works and the modern interpretation that strike a chord, not because of my youth, but because of my struggle with depression. Sherlock as a character has always been about the logic, but meshed there as well are themes of loneliness, addiction, friendship and mortality.  All of these elements are all too front and center for someone with depression.

My father was himself addicted to cigarettes and other less than healthy behaviors. I’ve mostly avoided those paths but it’s a line that I can see readily.  The draw is there and Doyle (smartly I think) gave his hero, very blunt and obvious character flaws.

Not everyone will enjoy Sherlock but first two episodes of season 4 hit some very powerful emotional chords, some of which I found pulling at me on a personal level.

Though the show can at times be very dark it is an interesting watch.