Mental Illness in Bojack Horseman​
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Mental Illness in Bojack Horseman​

Representation that matters and that doesn't

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Mental Illness in Bojack Horseman​

In the TV show Bojack Horseman, the titular character Bojack's ghostwriter-begrudgingly-turned-best friend Diane suffers from depression. Her storyline is an interesting one, and captures key aspects of the hardships of depression well. The show portrays Diane as an aspiring writer from a family who was never very kind to her, most likely contributing to her mental illness. Her life is never quite where she wants it to be, which also may play a role in her disorder. Despite her illness, however, she has a strong head on her shoulders and is usually very smart, helping to morally instruct Bojack in lots of the sticky situations in which he finds himself. Diane also, however, tends to carry a grim aura with her, and it is generally pretty evident she is not happy.

In the article, it spoke about people with mental illness generally being portrayed as disheveled or incompetent. In Bojack, however, Diane is portrayed fairly healthily throughout the show. In almost all episodes she is dressed up in proper attire for everyday life, and her hair is always neat. There are a few times though where she will have a worse depressive episode than usual, or she has not taken her meds for a while, and she will lay around on the couch and eat pizza, letting her hair get messy and not changing her clothes. This is only a few instances throughout the show, but is an accurate portrayal of what can happen to people with depression. Going against the article, I also think that the show did a good job of demonstrating Diane's recovery. Towards the final seasons, Diane began taking antidepressants, something she had not done throughout most of the show since she claimed the pills made her gain weight. Eventually though, she became convinced, and took her antidepressants and gained the weight along with it. While taking antidepressants, she was able to allow herself to write short detective books for girls, rather than write about the trauma she endured as a child. I think that this portrayal will reduce the stigma around people with depression because it gave light to the fact that it's okay to seek help in the form of antidepressants and that it is okay to gain weight as a result of that. It demonstrated that one's mental health is more important than their looks, and that people with depression are functioning members of society who do contribute works of substance.

I think that people struggling with a disorder might not feel comfortable sharing it with the people in their lives because those people may turn around and begin treating them differently, no matter how close they may be. It can be difficult for some people to see anything other than what makes others different from them. For a person suffering from depression, for example, who wants nothing more than to be distracted from the thoughts inside their head and their illness, this will certainly not make their illness any easier. If others constantly remind people with disorders that they are ill when they interact, then there seems to be no point in telling anyone at all.

Reducing the stigmas associated with psychological disorders would bring nothing but benefits. If conversations about mental illness were open and easy, then a lot more sick people would feel comfortable speaking up and seeking help. Another benefit would be that representations in the media would begin to become more accurate, and the general public would begin treating people with psychological disorders more friendly. I think that a concrete step towards decreasing the stigma around these disorders would be teaching about them in elementary schools as part of either the social studies or science curriculums. If they are engrained in young minds as just being a fact of life, and that it is normal to have one, then the general public will grow up to be a much more tolerant society.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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