Nothing Changes You | “Treasure” Owls September Tour


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:


 

1. What has been like for you personally dealing with PTSD, to give those an understanding that don’t know what PTSD really involves?
Honestly, it has been both the best and worst thing that could have ever happened to me. Unfourntaely, we still live in a world where mental health issues are very misunderstood and the negative stigma attached to living with a mental illness is still so prevalent. It really is hard to understand it unless you’re in it or you know someone who is going through it. Living with PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder) has it’s own stereotypes as well. When I tell people I have PTSD, most people immediately respond with, “But you’re not a solider”, and even for myself, that was a learning curb. When I was officially diagnosed, I said the same thing myself: “But that’s what soldiers get!” It wasn’t until my team of doctors described to me what PTSD was that I really started to understand it. 
What it comes down to is, anybody can develop PTSD. If you have gone through a traumatic event or multiple events (like me), you are susceptible to PTSD. You don’t have to fight a war to develop it. 
For me, I had a very abusive childhood where I was mentally and emotionally abused (with a handful of times of physical instances). I went through terrible things that are hard to describe simply in this blog post, but to sum it all up: My childhood was a very traumatic time in my life. When I was being abused, I took everything I felt and bottled it up inside for years, and years, and years. I didn’t have an outlet to releasing all of these negative things. It wasn’t until I was moved away to university did I start remembering things I went through, and I started having nightmares about the abuse and everything started to bubble up. By nineteen I reached a breaking point. A month before my 20th birthday I was so desperate that I considered swallowing a bottle of pills. Only then did I realize that feeling this way, and suffering this way was not normal. It is definitely more complicated than it sounds, but that night I had to make a choice: life or death, and somewhere deep inside me I found the will to fight. Picking up the phone and calling my fiancee (then boyfriend) was likely what saved my life that night. 
 

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).

 



2. In your article describing how you are a “professed geek girl”, did anime as a medium act as a coping mechanism to deal with what you were going through? How much did that mean to you? 
Absolutely! I had been a geek girl ever since I was four years-old and Mom showed me my first ever episode of Sailor Moon. Anime (and manga too) wasn’t something I found during my hard years. I have been eating, sleeping, breathing the geek life long before I was diagnosed with PTSD. But yes, anime was 100% a coping mechanism that had helped me through the years. When I was a child and being abused, I only had to turn on the TV or pick up a manga comic and whisk myself away to fairytale lands and fantasy worlds where I could, just for a little while, pretend that I was strong and courageous like those anime characters. 

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!)

 



3. In what was the moment you decided, “Right, I’m going to start blogging about mental health”?
When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I hid that information from most of my family and friends for over three years. The only people that knew were my parents, my fiancee, and maybe two best friends. Other then that I put up a wall and a facade to hide what I was going through. At the same time I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was having chronic migraines all the time, so it was an easy cover up. I could lie about being in the hospital and blame it on my migraines. No one would ask questions, but I hid it for so long because I was so ashamed and I was living with so much guilt. Yes, I was ashamed because of the terrible stigma that exists with living with a mental illness, but it was also because I was afraid of how my family and friends would react when they found out about the abuse I went through at my father’s hands. Even though I was a kid (and now an adult), I still felt like everything was my fault. I felt weak and worthless and I wasn’t ready to put that sort of burden on the people I cared about. I was still struggling with suicidal thoughts and I thought if anyone ever found out about the attempts I have made on my life, I thought everyone would push me away, or blame me, or never speak to me again. I already felt so isolated and alone, I couldn’t fathom the thought that my loved ones would abandon me too.
 
But in 2015, when I started bouncing back from a very bad depressive episode, my attitude started to change. I started becoming angry at the stigma and negativity that came with living with a mental health issue. Even though I was terrified of revealing what I was going through, I finally just said to myself: “F*** this! Why should have to hide who I am? Why should I have to hid what I’m going through just so people don’t feel uncomfortable around me.” So on Bell Let’s Talk Day (Canada’s annual event to promote mental health), I posted a selfie to Facebook holding a piece of paper that said: I am NOT my mental illness, and waited for either the hate or love to pop up in the notifications box. That moment changed my life. I had so many people message me and thank me for being brave enough to come forward and talk about my struggles. So by October of that year, I created my WordPress blog and here I am, almost three years later
 

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? 
As cliche, and very early 2000’s emo song, as it sounds, six years ago it felt like something inside me just died. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky kinda girl. Yes, a lot of the times I was trying to cover up my abuse from friends, but I was still determined to be cheerful and happy for my friends. I had so much hate and pain in my home life that I was always determined to make my friends feel loved, even if it just meant a quick hug or laughing at stupid jokes. But the months leading up to me being diagnosed, something just switched off. Maybe I was too mentally and emotionally drained, but I didn’t have the heart to “fake it” anymore. I barely had the energy to laugh at people’s jokes, I didn’t want anybody touching me (If someone hugged me I would freak out). I don’t necessarily think that I was a different person, but I definitely feel that I was just so overcome with the hurt and the pain that I just didn’t feel myself. I had a black cloud hanging over my head for months and it’s hard to remember who you were before you were diagnosed sometimes. For months, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I hated the girl staring back so much sometimes, that I put my fist through a mirror. I grappled with feeling like two different people: Depressed Amanda and Happy Amanda. 
 

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.

 



5. How do you cope when you have your off days? Do you watch anime, something that takes your mind off whatever it is?
Watching anime and reading manga are definitely my saving graces some days. Every “bad day” is different. There are days where I get up and go about my day, but I feel a nagging in the back of my head that won’t leave me alone. Some days I have less patience or become irritated easily because I hate those stomach-sinking feelings that make me feel empty. Some days I don’t have the energy to shower or take care of myself. On the really bad days, I can’t even get out of bed. I stay hidden under my covers with the blinds drawn. On those days the demons of my illness win, those days my mind reels and terrible thoughts and feelings fill my head. It’s hard to explain truly in words, but those really bad days can make you feel so defeated and drained, that it can take me days later to truly feel “better” again. 
 

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?

Can I really geek out in answering this? Please? Please?! 
 
To quote Mewtwo from the Pokemon movie: “The circumstances of one’s birth is irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
 
And that my darling, is a quote that I have applied to myself so many times over the years. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I could have acted the opposite way. I could have went, “Woe is me!” and used my illness as an excuse or “Get out of jail free” card (which I would NEVER do!). I could have had a piss-poor attitude and let the bad things I went through determine the course of the rest of my life. Now don’t get me wrong, not everybody does this. Lots of people fight invisible illnesses and still struggle. I have had my struggles too, but it was never my style to point fingers of pin the blame on someone else. 
 
Could I helped that my father was a bad man? No. Could I have stopped the abuse that I went through? Potentially, maybe I could have, but the abuse still wasn’t (and will never be) my fault. Unfortunately, I came from terrible circumstances, but I wasn’t ready to let that defeat me. Yes, I struggled and dealt with unimaginable pain, but I fought (and still fight!) to get to where I am. For me, I took my circumstances and turned them into something inspiring and empowering. I could let my childhood affect me as a person. I could let my PTSD win, but I don’t. Rather, I am taking something so many people view as a bad thing and I’m turning it into something good. I am trying to make a difference for other people who are living with mental health issues and feel alone. I am trying to fight against the negative stigma and make mental health every day conversation. I want to be able to say to strangers, “Hi, I’m Amanda and I have PTSD” and not get strange and uncomfortable looks. 
 
I am just one person trying to make a difference. I’m not saying everyone who has a mental health issues needs to get up on a soapbox and shout it in Time Square for everyone to hear. Just better educating yourself and trying to understand mental illness a little better can make all the difference? But to be completely blunt, I will say this: Living with, healing from, and coping with a mental health issue is hard. It will be hard and unforgiving, but unless you’re willing to help yourself, you’ll never get better. I know that sounds a bit mean and a little frank, but it’s 100% true. Therapy and pills and support can only get you so far. If you’re not wanting to get better yourself, if you’re not willing to fight for a better future, then it’s going to be a hard battle. Like the quote says, it’s what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are. You can either let your mental illness make you or break you – and I hope many of you choose to fight the good fight (See my shameless blog plug there? 😉) and become a force to be reckoned with! 
 

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 

To keep up to date with us Follow our Twitter and Facebook !!
If your interested in joining us head to our blog!!

Thankyou for anyone that reads this !!

I’ll see you all in the next post! 
LitaKino

7 thoughts on “Nothing Changes You | “Treasure” Owls September Tour

  1. I really learned so much because of this post. Thank you very much for sharing. I thought I’m already depressed but reading this made me realized how it really feels to be depress. There’s more to it that only those who experienced or is experiencing it can explain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a really cool post to read. Amanda’s experiences in dealing with PTSD without realizing she had it was interesting to hear about. I feel like people really don’t understand PTSD well beyond knowing that it affects soldiers. Anyone who has it without being a soldier or without being in a situation like a shooting has to fight through their own stigma and those of people around them. My husband has PTSD for similar reasons to Amanda mixed with many of the things I discussed in a post-tour-post last month. Like Amanda’s experiences, he has a lot of trouble because he has to explain to people how he can possibly have PTSD. There are so many things out there that can set him off into a spiral of anxiety, depression, or meltdown mode. Stimuli come from unexpected places and at unexpected times. It makes him feel uneasy knowing that something could set him off at any moment. Just a few weeks ago, our neighbors were having a shouting match of some sort and this turned him into a shaking mess, rendering him unable to focus on or do anything for the rest of the day. Because of instances like this, sometimes I have to work hard to convince him that he’s not a broken, dysfunctional mess of a human.

    Thanks also for sharing your experiences with autism. It was cool to read about how situations have made you feel low but despite that, you’re determined to keep on keeping on. I’m glad you discovered WordPress and I look forward to more from you in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is my favourite post in this tour. Excellent post, Lita! Also thank you for sharing Amanda’s post. That was quite the post and it really struck a chord with me. As for you, Lita dear, I really admire how you’re open about your autism and your experiences with mental health. You’re strong. Keep on being strong! And indeed, our mental health doesn’t define any of us. Thank you for such a meaningful post. Stay awesome. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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