Potentially warning you folks this post could turn into a novel as this month for Owls, we are covering a heavy subject. What do I mean by heavy? It’s something not talked about enough and all month Mental Illness has been our focus point.
If your not familiar with the group I am apart of, we are known as Owls, group of Otaku bloggers. Whom every month we do blog tour posts on the related topic at hand, our goal is to spread positivity and promote of human equality, gender, race and all round acceptance. We use anime as our outlet to express our points relating to the topic.
Never have been a last stop on our blog tour so feeling the nerves a little. Before beginning make sure to check out previous post before me Carla (Pop Culture Library) who addresses through the anime dramatical murder and a rapper. The awareness pop culture brings to mental health.
Prompt for Treasure Tour:
There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that.
For this month’s topic, we will be exploring pop culture characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide. We will be discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they are in.
My groups goal for this month was to speak out the realness, awareness in a topic that others are scared to venture into. Which is understandable, I’ll admit writing this now scared of what words may appear here, might not be understood. Or others might think “This person has no clue what’s she’s talking about”, that’s understandable as well. Anyone who could be reading this now, or even this second no one knows what your going through. No one can understand unless having the courage to speak up but I can’t even imagine how hard that must be for anyone out there.
There are bold, brave people who are speaking out about their condition, what their going through. It’s not an easy thing to do but not long ago came across Mental health advocate, blogger Amanda. She is an individual dealing with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Her pieces I read Why Anime and Manga Helps My Mental Health and Six years ago truly moving. Recommend reading them to get to know her story but I had the pleasure of doing a interview with Amanda herself. To get to know her, to relate with maybe from your own experience as she puts out her brave, honest words:
Six years later, it hasn’t been easy. Things are definitely getting better and only this past year or so did I really start to feel truly like myself, but it has been a long and hard battle. Admitting you need help is a hard step, but recovery is even harder. At the time, because I still knew very little about mental health issues, I just assumed that going to therapy and swallowing pills for a couple of months would “cure” me. But it so much more than that. It is so much more complicated, and honestly the hardest part of I had to come to terms with was this: I will have PTSD for the rest of my life. There isn’t simply some “cure.” Even though I could have good years, and bad years, and really, really, really bad years, this will be a part of me forever – and that was the hardest pill to swallow (no pun intended. lol).
In my opinion, I believe that many anime shows have more honest and “real” characters that teach us lessons that any old show you would find on TV today. Characters like Sailor Moon and Eren Jaegar showed me young pre-teens (like myself) who were struggling against extraordinary odds. These characters, even though they were brave and had magical powers, also demonstrated fear. They showed that even when doing something brave, it’s ok to feel afraid, it’s ok to feel fear – and I related to that on so many levels. I was a young kid who could barely comprehend what I was going through, so to have fictional characters like them to remind me it’s ok, to remind met that through the toughest moments of our lives we can grow, those were the lessons I appreciated the most. And on the really bad days, where I had so much anger and hurt, I could pretend to be like Light Yagami in DeathNote and scribble down the names of people who were hurting me and hope that Ryuk would come kick some ass on my behalf. (But let me be clear, I am not a sociopath like Lights – promise!)
I love being a mental health advocate and sharing my story with others. I still vividly remember how lonely and ashamed I felt, and I want to show others that you don’t have to feel this way, that you don’t have to hid your illness in the vain attempt of pleasing everybody else. It’s not easy to put your story out there, but I’m glad I did it. I took something terribly negative in my life and owned it. I made it my own, I took back all that hurt and pain and turned it into something wonderfully positive, and I’m so glad I did!
4. A very deep post you wrote so raw from how you were six years and to now. Do you feel you are not the same person as you were then? Do you feel stronger in parts?
Yes, living with a mental health issue is life-altering, but I don’t think I’m a different person because of it. I went through circumstances that greatly affected who I am as a person, but now that I feel like my old self again, I realise I am still the same Amanda, I’m just living with a mental health issues. But with regards to feeling stronger in parts, yes, 100%. Many people think living with a mental health issue isn’t a big deal, but coming to terms with my illness and fighting the mental (and physically) battles I did, I do feel stronger. My armour is definitely chinked and scratched, but I am a fighter and always have been. I’m not one to quit easily, no matter how defeated I feel. Yes, there are days my mental illness kicks me down and I can barely crawl out of bed to see the light of day, but those are the days I am fighting my hardest. My biggest thing I tell people is don’t underestimate someone with a mental illness. I know people who would never be able to survive what I went through and come out feeling empowered and stronger. I am not a different person, but I am definitely more wiser.
So on those really, really, really bad days, anime and manga are sometimes my escape. I have read Sailor Moon a thousand times and I’ll read it over and over again, ugly crying over the sad parts, and sobbing over the happy parts. Some days I try to wish myself into those worlds just so I can escape the pain I’m feeling. And on the flip sides, I watch shows like Attack on Titan or Black Butler and wish I had enemies I could take all my anger and frustrations out on (or had a demon butter to do my bidding. lol). And sometimes I watch anime shows that hit me in the “feels”, show that make me cry or laugh or cry with joy – because these shows remind me that it’s ok to feel things deeply, it’s ok to feel emotions that change you. Like Yuri!!! On Ice. Do you know how many times I’ve binged watched YOI? An embarrassing amount of times, but it a show (that has a killer soundtrack) that evokes so much emotion in me that I remember that I can feel more than emptiness and pain. But isn’t that a wonderful thing? I think it’s great to have something like that in my life to help me pull through. Who cares if it’s anime or manga? I certainly don’t.
6. What would be a message you’d pass on to anyone like you is dealing with their own mental health problems from your own personal experience?
But I will say this to those out there, reading this and feeling like the world is against them, you are not alone. There are so many others like you who are struggling silently and just trying to make it to the next sunrise. You’re not alone, and people like me, are fighting so you don’t ever have to feel alone. Remember that. There is a whole army behind you, you just need to be ready to scream your battle cry!
The amount of passion Amanda has is to be seen in her advocacy for Mental health and anime love. She has been amazing to get to know and me, Amanda’s hope that her words help in some way, let others have a open scope into what it’s like for individuals dealing with any mental illness.
Importanence In Understanding
In what you don’t know, you can’t understand. Friends whom past and even now I’ve known with depression, mental illness talking about their struggles is all too hard at times. Fearing no one might understand, “Oh it’s just stress, you don’t have anxiety” “Get over it already” Comments like this friends have told me they’ve been thrown at with sometimes worst. It’s just crueler on the mindset of anyone dealing with mental illness, No one helps saying harsh things that may not appear harsh to you. They do more damage than you can imagine.
Kou from shoujo/drama Blue Spring Ride is one character that relates to the fear of no oone understanding. Before going moving away known back then as Tanaka was a warm hearted, kind individual whom liked classmate Futuba, Futuba likes him as well. Tanka had arranged to meet Futuba at the local summer festival but after a silly misunderstanding. Tanka leaves her hanging. The two years later they meet again in high school but Futuba is surprised his different persona. For reasons he changes his name to Kou, he had became cold, blunt natured.
Behind his exterior Kou was dealing with heavy baggage, hiding all his weakness, trying to fit in with others around him. The main cause of his pain was in middle school his mother was terminally ill. Kou places a burden on himself for not seeing the the signs of how sick his mother truly was. Till all felt too late, on top of that feeling he broke the promise he made to his older brother. Promise to take care of their mother, Kou felt like a failure.
Kou has no previous mental health issues but as Taku describes in his post about Kakeru from Orange. Kou and Kakeru are similar in being in a dark slump, shutting themselves off from everyone and everything.
My Own Relation With Mental Health
I’ve talked about before in my Strength blog tour post a brief experience in relation to characters in a Silent Voice went through. Shoko by far has become one of my favourite characters all time for so many reasons, main reason. We both have a disability which to me any disability is classed in mental health and illness as stated in my case by The National Autistic Society in the UK. Relating back to my strength post where admitting have what is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Autism is a lifelong development condition characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities. Via Australian Spectrum Australia
Even when first finding out had the condition even now don’t understand the full scope of it but all I know is my way of thinking, socialising, approaching situations is different. Trying to explain from your perspective of what your dealing with is hard to let others understand, personally no exception from this. In relation with Kou and Kakeru I’ve been stuck in that dark slump no end of times. Spoken before the slightest thing that goes wrong in my life, my world stops. A mental meltdown like to call them occurs even if it’s something small anybody else might not freak out about.
The worse of this happening was during ny high school days in the UK. Felt so miserable all the time attending the school I did, bullying was happening on the weekly. I can never forget the worst time, it got so bad fell into a dark state, remember feeling just such numbness. That day my parents were called to the school to take me home, I’d completely shut myself off. World went dark. Was lucky had my family for support to talk to about anything especially my mum, back then didn’t have any true friends to lean on. From back then to now life is so much better, the new life we have in the aussie land has completely changed me. I still have my dark days but closet people who I have around me, understand. Understand how I am and know my condition doesn’t change me as a person.
Don’t Bottle It Up
Kou was lucky to have Futuba around who wanted to understand him, his feelings, his pain, what made him change so much. The scene is a memorable one for me when Kou finally pours out years of pain, frustration and begins to move forward, not backward. It’s not weakness to feel afraid, I was afraid to tell my parents what was going on, I didn’t want to feel like a burden honestly. It’s not weakness to admit things people might not understand, doesn’t have to be any person. Only that should matter to you is the closest people around you, that do understand you and know whatever your struggle. It doesn’t change you.
I’ve been thrown at with “Your crazy” “Weird”, well those people don’t know me and you shouldn’t care. Don’t ever pay attention to anything people may label you as, what the hell would they know. Don’t ever give those people the time of day who say such trivial, low comments, I’ve never. Don’t continue bottling up your feelings, taking that step to let the ones closet to you in, won’t make you feel so alone. Always let whatever your feeling out, don’t keep it locked away I still struggle with this even now. There’s no shame in that.
Mental Health Doesn’t Define Your Own Being
My autism condition doesn’t define my whole self, the person I am. It’s apart of me but just a part I’ll continue to deal with day by day. Your mental health is more important than anything in this world in my eyes. You need to take the time for yourself to take care of that. In the mental health awareness support, support, support is the biggest thing that stands out, its so important. It’s important to be aware of mental health, you can make a difference to someone, someone close to you, even a stranger. By being their and listening, listening, listening is next to support.
Every person has their battle own out their, it’s very real, depression, suicide, autism, bio polar, anxiety the list goes on. In my eyes just because an individual is dealing in their own battle, doesn’t change who they are. Life is short enough, have to live it as best as you possibly can, through the rollercoaster life is. I have my ups and downs all the time, but I’ll keep pressing on. Just by being their in someone’s battle adds to their courage and strength.
Such as individuals like Amanda admitting her ups and down but examples the courage and strength she has to keep going. Will say it again it is me and Amanda wish that what we’ve said helps in some way for anyone with a mental health condition. The more people openly talk about mental health awareness, the biggest difference it can making others aware, becomes this constant on going chain.
To conclude this already long post I’ll leave this song that has raised my spirits because in the name of it:
I’d like to give a big thankyou to Amanda for being so open and doing the interview, Make sure to check out her blog and advocacy for mental health. This topic we have covered for this month was very important to me, so knew I wanted to go the extra mile.
Please check out my other members posts for this blog tour click here and leave any comments you have below of anything I’ve discussed.
October tour schedule is up here
Thankyou for anyone that reads this !!
I’ll see you all in the next post!