I love the X-Men…
…The Avengers, Captain America, Suicide Squad…you can see where I’m going with this, I basically just love all comic book movies.
As most of you know, I have been living with anxiety, depression, paranoia, psychotic experiences and borderline personality disorder for a while now. A few months ago I set myself a challenge, which was to go to my local cinema to watch the new X-Men movie, on my own.
I have been struggling to even walk out of my front door alone for a long time and so was very surprised and extremely proud when I did it, I actually did it; I went to the cinema and watched X-Men: Apocalypse on my own. Ah! And in my brightly coloured yoga pants rather than something big, grey & baggy that I could hide in (I’m so cool).
I was anxious, obviously, and also kept feeling The Scary lady around me, the one I see in my hallucinations. However, eventually I managed to control my symptoms well and just found myself focused on the movie. Huge victory.
The movie finished and I left the cinema feeling like a different person. I will go as far as to say that this movie and this particular experience have been a very important point in my recovery, life changing maybe….No, I’m not exaggerating, let me explain…
I found myself really relating to Sophie Turner’s character; Jean Grey. Here’s why: Jean has immense & intense mutant powers. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, same thing really, take my word for it. Her powers first manifested after she experienced the death of a childhood friend; so the intense emotions triggered the powers to present themselves. My “powers” or intense BPD emotions & symptoms are usually triggered by stressful events (please note, things like running out of almond milk can be a stressful event for me so I’m triggered quite a lot).
Jean is sensitive and caring but she also has to deal with these immense emotions & power that she struggles to control, when these emotions & power take over it results in Jean Grey zoning our and becoming a whole different person; she turns into her aggressive alter ego: The Phoenix, whom nobody can frikkin control. Like Jean, I’m very sensitive, I lack a layer of protection when it comes to being triggered, I’m sure many of you can relate. I’m also too caring, too nice at times, which can get me in trouble. I also struggle to control my feelings, emotions & thoughts daily and when they do take over me, bad things happen; I lose control and nobody else can really control me either. Sound familiar?
As a result, Jean has to live with these very different personalities inside her, and is always fighting to control the powers of her more intense, aggressive and extremely powerful alter ego. Jean has no control over herself when she is taken over by The Phoenix persona. This is me and life with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression & Anxiety. I’m constantly struggling and fighting to keep control of myself, at intense times I dissociate, or “zone out” like I’m floating in a dream, and completely change. My intense emotions can also result in me becoming a whole different, more aggressive, person. I lose me when this happens. Quite similar to Jean Grey when she becomes The Phoenix. Again, I’m sure many of you can relate. I just want to make sure that you get the similarities between those with mental ill health and amazing mutants.
This character and portrayal reminded me a lot of myself and those with mental ill health in general; the intense emotions, the struggle & fight to control myself, my actions and reactions, the dissociation, the splitting, the struggle with my identity (or lack of it), the episodes of self-harm; rather than harm others, I do to it to myself. Although, these symptoms don’t always manifest themselves in this way, some people can relate to Jean Grey more than I can.
This is also similar to that of a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder (think Elliot in Mr Robot), and many other similar diagnoses actually, where an identity is introduced to the psyche as a coping mechanism.
On another note, I also feel like society is trying to throw me out; I’m not able to function as the capitalist world wants me to, and so I’m rejected. Again, similar to how the world treats mutants.
It got me thinking, we are mental superheroes! And I left the cinema feeling extremely empowered and powerful, in a good way, like yes I need to learn about myself, my symptoms and how to manage them, so that I can go on to lead the life I want for myself. I can accept this, embrace it and learn to manage my symptoms and have more control, but I will always have that intense sensitivity that not everyone does, which gives me a difference perspective of life, of the world, of the universe.
I can go on to live my life but I’ll always have my special powers, which many others don’t. This thought keeps me going sometimes, I look at the characters that I love and that inspire me and think “Hey, I’m like you but in my own way. How rock ‘n’ roll is that?!” “I’ve loved you my whole life, maybe it’s about time I love myself too”. It is hard, my mental ill health is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and it will take some time for me to get there, but for now I’ll just pretend I’m in Professor Xavier’s school for the gifted and I’m in the process of learning about myself and my “powers”. I much prefer to think of it that way, rather than keep putting myself down for the fact that I can’t function like others right now.
I hope this little theory can be helpful for someone else struggling to accept themselves. It’s done wonders for me.
Oh and I have to add that a couple of weeks after this experience I went to meet my now therapist for the first time, for an assessment. In our first meeting not only was she lovely, she also mentioned mutation. Talk about the universe sending me a sign. Hah!
Remember, you can do this, just like The X-Men; you can learn & manage & control your powers. We’re special and gifted just like them, and we can do amazing things with our powers. Don’t ever give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Keep learning. And always take care.